San Diego, that ancient sod of a city in the far south left corner of the world has always been a great place to see the stars shine.
On any clear, typically smog free, breezy night, the sparkling jewels of light shine brightly, and as of late there's a new constellation rising, and its one constellation you can see without a telescope.
It's known as the Greyboy Allstars.
Conceived in genius by the nimble mind of DJ Greyboy and saxophonist Karl Denson, they built the band member by member to its present half dozen plus one of the best talent in Diego Town.
Pushing that highly polished, top shelf sound is Zach Najor on skins, Chris Stilwell bassin' it, Mike Andrews stummin' strings, Robert Walters on keys, Craig Levitz perkin' the percussion, Karl Denson windin' the sax and a little flute, and Harold Todd on a whole lotta flute.
And like a pearl don't need no polishing, these soul jazz, funky on the forward-tip music makers have gotten tighter in six months than most bands get in a lifetime. That's cause they play for the groove, and just the groove. As Greyboy laid it on me, "To groove is the direction the band's goin' for, we're not going for commercial appeal or anything like that."
But still, with the recent 'mainstream' crossover of bands like US3, the labels are lookin' an' listenin' What does Greyboy think of this trend? "We're not lookin' for a record deal, we're just looking to make great music. I know it sounds like a clich?, but in this case it's really true. I think it's the one thing that comes across most with the All-stars.
"We're definitely avoiding commercial record company schemes like what Blue Note did with US3. What they're doing is totally opposite of what we're trying to do."
How does he feel about the recent media attention devoted an the acid jazz genre? "I think there's a lot of acid jazz that doesn't really qualify as jazz at all, it's more like hip-hop or R&B. Acid jazz is really a lame term anyway, but you have to say it' cause it's the only way a regular person that's not in the scene can identify with what you're talking about."
In a scene that's growing strong, it's only a matter of time before legendary entertainers bring us back to the days when outstanding talent was the rule and not the exception. The fact that there are more people into jazz now, but less qualified musicians is something Greyboy laments.?"It's not like 30 years ago, where the top ten performers in jazz, each was a legend in their own right; there was Coltrane, Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk, Sonny Rollins and many others. The scene's strong today, but it's got a ways to go."
And this influence and, drive comes through in his progressive new tradition trip. He writes the music the old-school way, using samples and working by ear. Heavy into the recording side of things, he engineers the recordings for that specific sound that's "just right...," the sound that the All-stars are all about. This sound is just as important as the sound of the band itself.
Again, Greyboy; "Some people are concerned with the sound recordings, and some aren't, but it's definitely a big part of what we're trying to accomplish; bring back that big quality sound."
Having just finished mixing the All-stars' album, West Coast Boogaloo, on his private label, you know the proof will be in the pudding when it hits the shelf this month. And with a planned tour at the end of summer or possibly in the fall, plus more studio sessions, you'd be best to catch one of their Left coast shows.
Hit it up at either the Green Circle Bar in San Diego, Brass record parties and at the Dragonfly in LaLa Land, or places like the always a-house-on-fire Elbo Room in Frisko.
Catch 'em now and you just might have something to brag about to your grand kiddies, dig??
This article was published in Step Jazz Magazine