World Famous Jazz Collective Hoboken Bassist Releases 4 Song Suite | Testa
Like a host of young musicians, Jared Michael Nickerson came to Hoboken in the early 1980s in search of fame and fortune. Instead, he found a home.
Almost 40 years later, Nickerson still lives in the Washington Street apartment he inherited from one of Maxwell’s first DJs. And while Human Switchboard, the band that brought him to eastern Ohio, split decades ago, Nickerson’s bass has supported superstars like Bernie Worrell, The The, Melvin Van Peebles. and Marshall Crenshaw.
His first gig, however, was a long and fulfilling career as one of the founding members of Burnt Sugar: The Arkestra Chamber, the world-renowned improvisational jazz collective that released the four-song suite “Angels Over Oakanda “on Thursday, September 7. 16.
Nickerson formed Burnt Sugar with former Village Voice critic Greg “Ironman” Tate in 1999. Over the years dozens of jazz greats have crossed its ranks, and it was on purpose.
“You see, from a tax standpoint, we can’t be an employer, so everyone is an independent contractor,” Nickerson explained. “Which means we have to ask them if they would like to play when we have a concert or a recording session. And so because of that, you can’t say, well, you have two bands, but you have to do our gig. We can’t do this. So we just call someone else. And we’ve kind of been blessed. Due to the original level of talent of the players Greg and I recruited, word spread and started to attract a Who’s Who from the free New York music scene. And it’s just built from that. We’ve never had a problem finding great players who are interested in what we’re doing.
And what is it exactly? Ornette Coleman called it “the art of improvisers,” but composer / conductor Lawrence “Butch” Morris codified it in what would come to be known as the ensemble conduction system.
“Other people used the conduction method, but usually with classical orchestras or pan flute ensembles and things like that, and Greg wanted to fit it into the electric sound of Miles Davis,” Nickerson said. “And so he called a jam session. The first session was me and (the pianist) Vijay Iyer and about six or seven really, really, really great musicians. Greg wanted to see what we would find if we just followed his hand signals to make music. Our first shows were at the CBGG Underground and they went really well. And then a few weeks later, we went to the studio and recorded the first record. “
“Angels Over Oakanda”, the new release, stems from a 22-minute instrumental session recorded in 2018 with an ensemble comprising 10 musicians, including saxophones, trumpet, organ and electric guitar, with Nickerson on bass and Tate as conductor. ‘orchestra. Later, additional material was created in the home studios of saxophonist V. Jeffrey Smith and flautist Satch Hoyt.
The 18-minute title song is essentially an edited mix from the band’s 2018 session. The other pieces were put together by Frankenstein in the studio.
“Repatriation of the Midnight Moors inna Oakanda” is a 12-minute beat-and-bass remix of the “Oakanda” suite produced, composed and arranged by longtime Burnt Sugar guest drummer and arrangement collaborator Marque Gilmore.
Nickerson produced the third track, “Oakanda Overdrive”, cutting and pasting session tracks with his own inventive bass set and sax parts by V. Jeffrey Smith, in whose studio the track was assembled.
The final track (and only vocal), “Lisala Over inner-Oakanda,” features Burnt Sugar singer Lisala Beatty.
“We sent Lisala all of the tracks to see if anything would resonate with her, and there was a little part of ‘Midnight Moors’ that she took and sampled,” Nickerson said. “Then Greg wrote some lyrics, and Lisala took them and created the vocal melodies and did all the vocal harmonies. It sounds really amazing.
Tate came up with the double-edged sword, both riffing on the fictional country of Wakanda from Marvel’s “Black Panther” as well as a slang term for Oakland, California.
“Greg is kind of an encyclopedia that way,” Nickerson said. “Of course people will think of the movie ‘Black Panther’, then your mind goes back to the original Black Panthers. And where were they from? Oakland.
“Angels Over Oakanda” will be released on CD and digitally.
“We wanted this to be our first vinyl release, but as you’ve probably heard vinyl production is extremely strong due to the pandemic,” Nickerson said. “The production plants told us they could deliver something no earlier than early summer 2022, and we didn’t want to wait that long. So what we’re going to do is put some alternative mixes and remixes on Bandcamp for people to download, besides offering the CD.
The band plans to release additional remixes from the 2018 session throughout 2021.
While Burnt Sugar has yet to schedule any live dates, Nickerson will replace on bass when The Bongos perform at Montclair’s Outpost In The Burbs on Sunday, September 19. Tickets are available on outpost.ticketleap.com.
For more information on Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Room, visit www.burntsugarindex.com.
Jim Testa can be reached at email@example.com.