The Boston Horns is a 7-piece funk/jazz/soul band led by founding members Garret Savluk and Jeff Buckridge. The bands compelling mix of funk and jazz has kept them busy performing for clubs, festivals and private events in New England, New York, Montreal, New Orleans and as far away as Tokyo, Japan.
Over the course of 20 years, members of the Boston Horns have collaborated and toured with a wide range of artists including Tower of Power, Extreme, Paquito D’Rivera, Sam Kininger, Johnny A., Shawn Mullins, Greg Piccolo and Susan Tedeschi to name just a few.
Garret Savluk - Vocals, Trumpet
Squantch - Trombone
Jeff Buckridge - Guitar
Jeremy Parker - keys
Peter Maclean - Drums
Nephtaliem McCrary - Vocals
Ed Spargo - Bass
Brent Beech - Sax
Shibuya Gumbo - 2007
A Thousand Souls - 2005
You’ve Got to Find Your Own Groove - 2004
East Coast Funk - 2003
Boogie Stop Shuffle - 2001
It’s In Your Face - 1999
Released in Japan by P-Vine Records:
Givin' up food for funk - 2007
Live from Tokyo - 2006
Live from Boston - 2006
Bring on the Funk - 2006
Released in Japan by Impartmaint:
Speedball - 2011
Airplay (partial list - U.S.):
Live, Mojo Music Studios
WJAB, Huntsville, AL
KJZZ, Mesa, AZ
KASU, State Univ., AR
KUSP, Santa Cruz, CA
KCSM-FM, Hillsdale, CA
KCSS, Turlock, CA
KFSR, Fresno, CA
KKJZ, Long Beach, CA
KMFB, Mendocino, CA
KRML-AM, Carmel, CA
KSJS, San Jose, CA
KSJS-blues, Cupertino, CA
KUSP, Santa Cruz, CA
KZSU, Stanford, CA
KRFC, Ft. Collins, CO
KSUT, Ignasio, CO
KUVO, Denver, CO
KVNF, Paonia, CO
WECS, Willimantic, CT
WPKN, Bridgeport, CT
WRTC, Hartford, CT
WLRN, Miami, FL
WUCF, Orlando, FL
WHCJ, Savannah, GA
KIPO, Honolulu, HI
WFIU, Bloomington, IN
WICR Indianapolis, IN
WVPE, Elkhart, IN
KMUW, Wichita, KS
KEDM, Monroe, LA
WTUL, New Orleans, LA
WWOZ, New Orleans, LA
WFNX, Lynn, MA
WGBH, Boston, MA
WICN, Worcester, MA
WMBR, Cambridge, MA
WMUA, Amherst, MA
WEAA, Baltimore, MD
WESM, Princess Anne, MD
WCMU/WUCX, Mt. Pleasant, MI
WEMU, Ypsilanti, MI
WGVU, Grand Rapids, MI
WKAR, E. Lansing, MI
WNMC, Traverse City, MI
KBEM, Minneapolis, MN
KDHX, St. Louis, MO
KJLU, Jefferson City, MO
WJSU, Jackson, MS
WNNC, Newton, NC
WSHA, Raleigh, NC
WTEB, Greenville, NC
WFDU, Teaneck, NJ
KUNM, Albuqueque, NM
KUNV, Las Vegas, NV
WCDB, Albany, NY
WBGU, Bowling Green, OH
WCLV, Cleveland, OH
WJZA, Columbus, OH
KBOO, Portland, OR
KMHD, Portland, OR
KSMF, Ashland, OR
WDIY, Bethlehem, PA
WQLN, Erie, PA
WRTI, Philadelphia, PA
WSYC, Shippensburg, PA
WRIU, Kingston, RI
WUMR, Memphis, TN
WUOT, Knoxville, TN
KETR, Commerce, TX
KTEP, El Paso, TX
KTSU, Houston, TX
KVLU, Beaumont, TX
WRIR, Richmond, VA
WRUV, Burlington, VT
KEWU, Cheney, WA
KPBX, Spokane, WA
WWSP, Stevens Point, WI
WLSU, La Crosse, WI
WWVU, Morgantown, WV
94.1 FM Radio 2, Skopje, Macedonia
"Ask Me Later" - Instrumental
"Givin Up Food for Funk" - Barrence Whitfield, Vocals
"A Real Mother for Ya..." Barrence Whitfield, Vocals
"Dyno-Mite" - Garret Savluk, Vocals
"Funk #49" - Garret Savluk & Henley Douglas Jr. - Vocals
"Vaccination" - Instrumental 2007
"It's A..." - Instrumental 2007
"Shibuya Gumbo" - 2007
"Pink Polyester" - (Live - 2004)
Boston Horns rocked Beverly
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Last night’s show at Chianti Lounge in Beverly was a send off party for saxophone player Henley Doug...Last night’s show at Chianti Lounge in Beverly was a send off party for saxophone player Henley Douglas Jr. After playing in The Boston Horns for 12 years, Douglas is moving onto other projects. Throughout the evening, Douglas maintained his composure but his eyes looked watery from time to time. He even told a story about a time he and trumpet player Garrett Savluk went into an elevator full of women in Japan. You had to be there.
Other members of this brassy, funky, jazzy band include drummer John Iltis, keyboard player Ben Zecker, bass player Dave Walker, guitarist Jeff Buckridge, and their trombone player who only goes by the name Squantch.
After all these years, The Boston Horns still impress with their ability to shine as individual musical powerhouses and also with their ability to play so well together without stepping on each other. The dynamic seven piece opened their first set with the horns blowing out some smooth exuberant joy over a full blown groove. This rhythm section doesn’t need time to build up the oomph. They can just go right into it huge and heavy.
Douglas celebrated his last gig with the Horns by putting his heart and soul into his numerous solo spots. Yet, ever the professional, Douglas never tried to make the music all about him. He remained a part of an ensemble. His first sax melody spot found his melody blowing in a spiral, artfully moving around everything else that was going on in the tune.
Throughout the evening Zecker played his piano like a rapid fire machine of precision. So many 16th notes. So much cool, jazzy ambience. Garrett and Squantch brought trumpet and trombone together in a splendid ebullience in plenty of spaces in the heavy groove.
Boston Horns performed “The Nasty Riders,” another of their instrumentals, making it bop along with greasy horn shots that pieced the melody together in style. The trumpet melody here made its own wall of sound. A tune they called “Big Alice” had an irresistibly skipping beat with a faux barrelhouse piano. The horn section played the melody in glowing, blaring, glorious unison. Garrett took a trumpet solo on a flight of fancy while the rest were rocking behind him.
Buckridge often unleashed his speedy, jazzy guitar phrases, brittle notes riding high into the stratosphere. There were moments of Buckridge knocking off funky guitar riffs and other moments when he made his guitar play something close to acid jazz. This guitar player also made his guitar sing, when he had his high notes, sustained, bent, moving into higher scales as he went along.
Drummer John Iltis added a lot of nice touches of his own when he wasn’t busy lifting all of the sounds around him with his solid beats and quick moves around his set. Iltis gets a nice, full sound out of each drum piece, and his sense of dynamics fits right in with this horn band that never fails to create a sense of largeness with their huge, heavy, busy sound.
Keyboardist Zecker, with his wild, funky 16th notes, ran the gamut of possibilities, from 1960s soul to hints of modern, jazzy minor chords. One moment he could be heard coaxing a series of soulful organ chords forward or articulating a forlorn melody with his piano tinkling.
Savluk’s trumpet blows hard like a force of nature while remaining intricate in his treatment of the melody. If you have always associated the trumpet with the uncoolness of a high school marching band, Garrett will broaden your horizons. Like never before.
Douglas was gracious enough to share his final night with guest trumpet player Brian Cogger, a 16 year old prodigy who goes to every Boston Horns show he can get to. Cogger was melodic and dynamic in his solo spot and he held his own in the ensemble portions. Not bad at all for a kid his age not to get hurt up there dealing with all of those seasoned pros.
The Boston Horns went into Garrett’s composition he titled “P.E.W.B” and has never revealed to anybody what those initials stand for. The piece, which combines funk determination with jazzy freedom, was marked by Buckridge’s greasy, jazzy leads that breezed by on his cool application of the notes.
The Boston Horns had fun with Lou Donaldson’s “Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky(From Now On).” Buckridge pulled out some more of his tender, brittle notes that he moved through speedily. The group improvised a Cold Blood interpretation of a Willie Dixon tune “All I Want To Do Is Make Love To You” and turned it into a swaying groove that had the crowd swaying to its earthy vibe. Piano tinkling on this got frenetic and reached a point of inspired madness
The band’s own tune “Funkafized” was chockfull of fun stuff, horn shots, funky guitar riffs, and heavy yet fluid bass. Yet, it was the keyboard solo that churned out an exciting echoey chord that resonated underneath it all. Buckridge eventually grabbed his share of the song with a screaming guitar solo that was as crazy as the sound of a tortured animal.
The spoken refrain “Shake That Ass” persuaded all of the patrons who were on their feet to do just that; a line of them snaked their way from the bar area, in and around the tables in the lounge, right up to the stage. Segue into “Give Up Food For Funk” and the dancers got even more into shaking it. After a hearty performance of “Boogie Stop Shuffle,” complete with waves of horn melody over the rocking beat, Douglas gave an emotional, thankful farewell to his fans. The Boston Horns responded with yet another big tune after the crowd called out for more.
The Boston Horns are not crowd pleasers in a commercial sense. But with such a mighty sound and with an intricate knowledge of dynamics, they are sure to always please their own loyal crowds at every show.
This special night for them was no different from the funky fun they have been serving up for 12 years.
Johnny D's Celebrates 10 Years
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Walking into Johnny D’s Uptown Restaurant & Music Club is like entering some lost relic of the past,...Walking into Johnny D’s Uptown Restaurant & Music Club is like entering some lost relic of the past, with its creaky barstools, old-time diner food, and endearingly mish-mashed decor of scratched album covers and vintage beer posters. If the Davis Square watering hole looks like it hasn’t changed much since the ’60s, that may be because it hasn’t. For Johnny D’s, which celebrates its 40th anniversary with a weeklong concert series ending tomorrow night, much of its charm rests with the restaurant’s steadfast dedication to its roots - and its roots music.
Structurally, of course, the spot has hardly been stagnant since Johnny and Tina DeLellis bought it in 1969. An expansion in 1974 helped accommodate country acts five nights a week, while the addition of a full kitchen in 1988 helped to further increase its reputation. “They might have swapped in a few pictures and big-screen TVs,’’ says Garrett Savluk of the Boston Horns, “but really, it’s pretty much the same Johnny D’s it’s always been, and I think that’s part of their success.’’
Besides offering Southern-tinged comfort food and a popular weekend jazz brunch, Johnny D’s is best-known for a diverse music calendar that features styles ranging from bluegrass and funk to Afrobeat and zydeco. “A lot of clubs try to capture the musical trends of the times,’’ says Bill Coover of Memphis Rockabilly, which has gigged regularly at the venue since 1980. “[John ny D’s] has stuck to its guns.’’
That said, soundman Dana Westover - who has booked bands at Johnny D’s for the last 25 years - has developed an uncanny knack for spotlighting acts that later break into the mainstream, including Jeff Buckley, Wilco, the Dixie Chicks, and Susan Tedeschi (who used to head up the Sunday blues jams in the ’90s). “My philosophy is to make sure everything that goes onstage is high quality,’’ Westover says. “You want people to trust you and return even if they don’t know the name on the marquee.’’
For the anniversary week, owner Carla DeLellis (daughter of the late Johnny and Tina) arranged a typically eclectic lineup featuring the Funky White Honkies and alt-jazz outfit Garaj Mahal, with shows every night through Saturday, Oct. 10 - a date that, not coincidentally, represents what would have been the 83d birthday of Johnny DeLellis. Numerous musicians and sponsors from over the years have donated merchandise to be raffled off, and Carla will also introduce extended kitchen hours and lunch-time DJ sets. “It’s a chance to step back and recognize how this place has impacted the lives of so many people,’’ she says. “It’s a celebration of everybody that has been a part of the Johnny D’s community.’’
The 40th anniversary festivities almost didn’t happen. Discussions about having an event were tabled last year, after Tina’s sudden death in April following a heart attack. It was not until this summer that Carla reconsidered after reflecting on the many friendships - and romances - that have blossomed thanks to Johnny D’s. In 2003 regulars Deborah Silverstein and Jim Neely held their wedding there, with a procession on the dance floor and musicians performing throughout the day. “There are a number of places in Boston where you can go in, order some food, and move out,’’ Neely says. “There’s some glue to Johnny D’s - an energy to the interactions - that immerses you and keeps you coming back.’’
In an age of conglomerates controlling Boston’s music scene, Johnny D’s remains a family-oriented operation. Siblings, uncles, and cousins have all lent a hand; Carla met her husband, Sean Sturgis, after he joined the waitstaff. “Even our 7-year-old daughter has been giving us tips for the kids’ menu,’’ Sturgis says with a laugh.
Carla attributes the continued success of Johnny D’s to her family’s strong work ethic and roll-up-the-sleeves mentality. Her constant fine-tuning of everything from the concert schedules to the table layout is part of a plan to stay relevant while keeping the restaurant’s core values intact. “You’re always going to face challenges,’’ Carla says. “So it’s really about asking ourselves, ‘What do we want the next decade of Johnny D’s to look like?’ ’’ Chances are, it’ll still involve a lively atmosphere, heaping helpings of homemade oatmeal, and some funky tunes.
Boston Horns: the cart-toppers celebrate 10
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Henley Douglas Jr. and Garret Savluk have been playing together for the better part of two decades, ...Henley Douglas Jr. and Garret Savluk have been playing together for the better part of two decades, from the early days with The Blues Meanies, which had them backing the Del Fuegos, among others, to the years as the conceptually outrageous Heavy Metal Horns, which put them on the road with then-charttoppers Extreme, to their work over the past ten years as the Boston Horns — a busy decade which finds the Horns comfortable and confident, opening for monster funk acts like Tower of Power and bringing the band, and its powerhouse sound, to a headlining tour in Japan.
But when they look back again — say, in another decade — Douglas and Savluk might have to put the upcoming tenth anniversary bash as one of the band’s Top Ten moments because it’s going to be a monster: The seven-piece funk band will perform at Knights of Columbus Hall in Salem with special guest vocalist Brenda Williams, a singer who has shared the stage with everybody from Ray Charles to the Beach Boys to Lee Greenwood. Opening acts will be Follow Hymn Gospel Choir and Eric Reardon’s All Star Blues Review.
And if that’s not enough Horns for you (an absurd concept, getting “enough” of this band) they’ll be taking the party on the road the next day to Johnny D’s, where, by all accounts, Williams just killed earlier this year, when the Indiana-based singer sat in with the band. ”She blew the place away,” says Douglas. “Bringing her into the mix for the tenth anniversary shows was a natural.” The Johnny D’s show will kick off with with a performance by the Nat Simpkins/Henley Douglas Jr. Soul Saxophone Quintet, pairing Douglas with Simpkins, a musician who found a musical home on the North Shore after leaving his home in New Orleans after Katrina.
They’ll also be riffing on the anniversary theme on Sunday, when Douglas and Williams turn up at In a Pig’s Eye with the Cool Time Quartet.
North Shore Art Throb recently asked Douglas and Savluk to look back at the past decade and give us their Top Ten moments. Here’s what they had to say:
GARRET SAVLUK’S TOP 10
10. Henley and I playing at the 2004 New Orleans jazz festival with the Brotherhood of Groove, just before Hurricane Katrina.
9. The time New Orleans trombone powerhouse “Big” Sammie Williams, leader of Dirty Dozen Brass Band, sat in with the band at Johnny D’s - before running off to his other gig across town!
8. Working in the studio with Dan Tarlow on our first four CDs. He helped us form our sound!
7. Opening up for Tower of Power at Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom — a couple times.
6. Hiring guitar legend Melvin Sparks to record and perform with the band.
5. Working in the studio with Anthony Resta and Karyadi Sutedja. Those recordings helped to “launch our success” in Japan.
4. Recording and arranging for Grammy Award-winning artist Shawn Mullins.
3. Hearing Karl Denson for the first time was the inception of the band.
2. Ataining a licencing deal with P-Vine records in Japan thanks to Sam Kinninger (who told us about them) and Kevin Canning (who handed them a CD in Japan).
1. Touring Japan after our first CD sold over 5,000 copies in 6 months.
HENLEY DOUGLAS JR.’S TOP TEN
10. Playing with some of the best musicians around: Ben Zecker, keyboards; Peter Maclain, drums; Jeffrey Buckridge, guitar; Dave Walker, bass; and Yahuba , percussion.
9. Addition of Squantch on trombone to continue to change and grow the sound of the Boston Horns.
8. Opening for Tower of Power at the Casino at Hampton Beach - a soldout show.
7. Recording and performing with Melvin Sparks, playing the White Mountain Boogie & Blues music festival.
6. Playing the Block Party for the Discover Jazz Festival in Burlington, Vermont.
5. Opening for Little Feat at the Albany River Festival- in front 8,500 people - in 2005.
4. Playing the Beantown Jazz Festival 2006.
3. Recording Shibuya Gumbo, featuring Barrence Whitfield on vocals.
2. Being picked up by P-Vine Records in Japan. Recording 3 cd’s and having “Pink Polyester” become one of the top radio plays in Japan.
1. Boston Horns Jazz Funk Expo tour of Japan. We played in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya to sold out shows.
Horns are in style this weekend
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For those who are into New Orleans-style funk and brass-band music, the North Shore is the place to ...For those who are into New Orleans-style funk and brass-band music, the North Shore is the place to be this weekend, as one local band will celebrate its 10th anniversary and another group will travel up from the Crescent City to toot their horns.
The Boston Horns will mark a decade as a band tomorrow night at the Knights of Columbus in Salem, where the band will be joined by a special guest, Brenda Williams, a soul singer from the Midwest who has shared the stage with the likes of Ray Charles, The Beach Boys and Lee Greenwood.
Two bands will open for the Boston Horns — the Follow Hymn Gospel Choir, out of Lynn, and Eric Reardon's All Star Blues, led by Reardon, a young guitarist from Salem.
"I honestly feel so fortunate to have played with the musicians that have been members of the Boston Horns over the past 10 years," said Henley Douglas Jr. of Salem, the band's saxophone player and one of its founders, along with Garret Savluk (trumpet) and Jeff Buckridge (guitar). "Most of the current line-up has been together over the last five years. They are by far some of the best musicians I've ever played with, and I consider them all world-class musicians."
The band recently added a trombone player, "Squantch," making it a seven-piece.
"Squantch has played with Topaz and the Groove Collective. He's an excellent musician who plays with a lot of soul," Douglas said "He's made the horn section sound bigger and better."
I've been doing this a long time and I still get excited to play with this band," Douglas continued.
"The Horns" will continue its 10th-anniversary weekend with a show at Johnny D's in Davis Square in Somerville on Saturday night, when Williams will again join the band. The night will kick off with a performance by the Nat Simpkins/Henley Douglas Jr. Soul Saxophone Quintet. Simpkins is an accomplished saxophone player from Manchester.
Finally, Williams will appear at In a Pig's Eye restaurant in Salem with the Henley Douglas Jr. Cool Time Quartet on Sunday night.
For more information or tickets, go to www.bostonhorns.com.
CD Review: Boston Horns, Shibuya Gumbo
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These primal-funk black belts led by former Heavy Metal Horns leaders Henley Douglas Jr. (sax) and G...These primal-funk black belts led by former Heavy Metal Horns leaders Henley Douglas Jr. (sax) and Garret Savluk (trumpet) spare no grease on their sixth studio album. Things kick in with the Average White Band–style groover “Ask Me Later” and end with “It’s a . . . Vocal,” an update of the J.B.s’ sound with fellow Boston R&B sparkplug Barrence Whitfield filling in for the Hardest Working Man in Show Business. And if you don’t know who that was, maybe this booty-rockin’ disc can help you plug that hole in yo’ soul. In between there’s pumping originals, a throbbing recast of blues giant Willie Dixon’s “I Just Want To Make Love to You” (also featuring Whitfield’s honking vocalise), Mr. Brown’s own “Givin’ Up Food for Funk,” and Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s working man’s anthem “A Real Mother for Ya.” Don’t let their provincial name fool you: this sextet are a world-class outfit.
Thundering performance: Boston Horns keeps Dover crowd entertained through stormy weather
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DOVER — A little rain was not enough to dampen the spirits of those who braved a summer thunderstorm...DOVER — A little rain was not enough to dampen the spirits of those who braved a summer thunderstorm to hear the swinging tunes of the Boston Horns during the Cochecho Arts Festival at Henry Law Park Friday night.
The arts festival entered into its third week with a return performance from the Boston Horns, who also played during the concert series last year. They brought their combination of big band jazz, bebop and swing to the stage at Henry Law Park, drawing a huge crowd that only partially dissipated when the rain started falling.
The trombone, saxophone and trumpet comprised the "horn" in the Boston Horns, but the seven-member band brought a whole lot more to the show as well. Horn players Squantch, Henley Douglas Jr. and Garret Savluk alternated between playing together and wowing the crowd with rousing solos. Guitarist Jeff Buckridge and keyboardist Ben Zecker also got in on the solo action.
The seats surrounding the stage were full of young and old listeners alike. People also filled the greens beyond the stage, bringing lawn chairs and blankets to gain a comfortable vantage point.
Listeners bobbed their heads and tapped their toes while enjoying the tunes, and the more uninhibited really got into the groove and broke out into spontaneous dancing.
After a brief bout of rain about 35 minutes into the show forced a good portion of the audience to head for drier ground, trombonist Squantch joked he never had a solo that drove so many away.
Meanwhile, many others buckled down, pulled out their umbrellas and weathered the storm. A stronger storm, complete with thunder and lightning, came through a few minutes later, but still people were determined to watch a full performance.
Aaron Wensley, of the Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce, said they always strive to keep the concerts outside. Noting the size of the crowd that remained even after the rain, he said they would not have drawn such a large audience had the concert been inside.
The rain even caused some to feel the funk even more thoroughly. Hiromi Mizu, 15, of Dover, and Tasha McCartney, 16, of Epping started dancing vigorously during one particularly damp moment.
"The rain's not going to stop us from having fun and getting down with our funky selves," said Mizu.
Others, like friends Christine Drew, 15, and Kelly Athanasiou, 16, both from Barrington, said they appreciate having a weekly event to look forward to.
"We come every week. Our families like it," said Drew, a flute player who appreciated the Boston Horns.
"I like it. They always have really good music," added Athanasiou. "I like how you can come outside, listen to music and relax."
Even those who left early said they enjoyed it while it lasted. Dover resident John Hussey, who forgot to pack an umbrella, said, "This is good stuff. Just like last week," adding, "We enjoy it every year."
In keeping with the Chamber's "shop local" campaign, Friday's concert featured pizza from the local Papa Gino's chain. Dover firefighters were also on hand to sell popcorn for a fundraising effort. The concert was sponsored by D.F. Richard Energy.
According to Wensley, they hope to get more businesses involved in future weeks.
Whitfield joins Boston Horns for seventh release
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When it comes to local jazz icons, there are always a few names on people's lips. Barrence Whitfield...When it comes to local jazz icons, there are always a few names on people's lips. Barrence Whitfield may be one of them, but for other soul fans, its the Boston Horns.
The jam band grew out of the Heavy Metal Horns, a nine-piece group that toured the world for four months with Extreme in the mid-'90s.
Together as the Boston Horns for nearly eight years, they've played clubs all over Boston, New York and even Japan.
They've opened sold-out shows at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom and had their music featured on XM radio's "Beyond Jazz."
Now the North of Boston musicians have teamed up with Whitfield to put together an album that's turning jazz fans' heads. The album, "Shibuya Gumbo," is the seventh to the Horns' credit.
The record title has twofold meaning: Shibuya comes from Shibuya City, the first place the Horns played on a recent tour; Gumbo is a nod to their New Orleans musical roots. The album was released a few week as ago at sold-out parties in Boston and Acton.
"It's getting rave reviews," said Henley Douglas Jr. of Salem, Mass., one of the founders of the Horns. "People are real excited about Barrence Whitfield. At times, he sounds like James Brown. He also has that charisma of just being able to take over a room."
Douglas, 53, a tenor and baritone saxophonist, said he has been one of Whitfield's biggest fans since moving to Boston.
On their own, the Horns do a lot of instrumental covers and originals. At times, co-founder and trumpet player Garret Savluk of Wilmington sings. While Douglas loves Savluk's work, he's also a fan of Whitfield's traditional approach and New Orleans-style chanting.
This album is different from the band's other releases, with more tracks written by Savluk, who also is head of the Andover schools jazz program. Horns guitarist Jeff Buckridge and Newbury native and Horns keyboardist Ben Zecker
also wrote for the record.
"To me, that's a sign of all the great bands - when people know the abilities and identities of the musicians and they are able to write music. That is how you get your own identifiable sounds," Douglas said.
Well-known sax player Sam Kininger guests on the album. Kininger has played with funk and soul bands including Lettuce, the Brotherhood of Groove, and the internationally reknowned Soulive. Currently he fronts the Same Kininger Band.
"Shibuya Gumbo" was produced by Anthony Resta, another local who has worked with Collective Soul, Letters to Cleo and Guster.
"The material we have on there is more contemporary. We have a singer of note on there," said Savluk, 39. "This CD is definitely the best."
December 20, 2007
Hold onto your horns
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The Boston Horns, featuring Henley Douglas Jr. on sax, Garret Savluk on trumpet and guitarist Jeff B...The Boston Horns, featuring Henley Douglas Jr. on sax, Garret Savluk on trumpet and guitarist Jeff Buckridge, have been burning up stages with high-energy, hard-grooving funk since 1999. Whitfield is a rock and soul legend. Together, they should be an unstoppable force.
The Horns have been tearing it up in one form or another — as a full band, as a hire-out section, as the Heavy Metal Horns and as the Boston Horns — for the better part of two decades. They’ve had highs and lows, playing everywhere
from divey Route 1 rat holes to Wembley Stadium.
But the past year or so has been extraordinarily productive for the Salem-based funk band: The Horns have released not one but three albums and done a mini-tour of Japan, where they’re treated, well, like rock stars.
And they’re fresh out of the studio with yet another album, a CD that ramps up the party by teaming up the six-piece, kick-brass band with R&B brawler Barrence Whitfield. And they’ll be giving everybody a taste of what that is all about this Saturday, when the Horns headline the first-ever Salem Jazz and Soul Festival with Whitfield as a special guest.
The daylong concert will recreate and renew the vibrant jazz scene that began at the Salem Willows in the ’20s, when Duke Ellington and other big band heavyweights played the Charleshurst Ballroom — a time recalled in “Music Is My Mistress,” Ellington’s autobiography. The free festival will feature local aces like Fats Hammond and Headshaft, as well as Bobby Keyes, a guy who has worked with everybody from Jerry Lee Lewis and Sleepy LaBeef to Ben E. King and Martha Reeves.
No one knows exactly how it’s gonna play out, but one thing is certain, says Boston Horns saxman and longtime Witch City resident Henley Douglas Jr.: “People are going to have their minds blown.”
The mind-blowing has been a long time coming. Douglas, one of the early advocates for the festival, had been talking about it for about five years. This year, the people came out and jump-started the process. A committee of 12 started working in January, really pushing the event.
“The word got out and people stepped up and said they would like to help — and really meant it,” Douglas says. And the city stepped up to the plate, expediting the permit process. “It was amazing how receptive the city was to it.”
No one really knows what the weekend will bring. Douglas expects between 1,500 to 2,000 people to show up, “but there could be way more than that,” he says. “You just don’t know.”
He’s been seriously underestimating the juice the festival has since the April fundraiser, featuring Whitfield, The Boston Horns, Los Sugar Kings, Eric Reardon and Catfish Lucy. They hoped to draw maybe 200 people. “We got double that,” says Douglas, who also fronts his own soul-funk group, Soul Force, and has also worked extensively with Vox Pop, an
award-winning spoken word-music ensemble. “We had to turn people away. It was cool. This was when I started thinking, ‘This might work.’”
Same thing happened with the Boston Horns Big Band, a 17-piece ensemble that played at the Peabody Essex Museum, and this week’s reunion of the Heavy Metal Horns, the last in a series of events leading up to Saturday’s festival.
“This,” says Whitfield, “could be the start of something big.”
The Horns-Whitfield collaboration was one of those “obvious” projects that nobody ever got around to doing: After all, both were doing roots, both were based on the North Shore. It was a natural. “Finally it dawned on me,” says Douglas,
“Duh, we should do something together.”
“We wanted to play together for years; finding the time was always the problem,” says Whitfield. One night they got together and jammed and “there was some electricity, some buzz-buzz going on,” says Whitfield.
The “buzz-buzz” spilled over to the recording sessions for the new Horns album, scheduled to be released in September.
“He tore it up completely,” says Horns trumpeter Garret Savluk.
Whitfield plays on four tunes on the disc. He does a James Brown medley of “Make It Funky” and “Giving Up Food for Funk,” which also features a guest performance by Sam Kinninger of Soullive, who may make a guest appearance at the festival. He also sings Willie Dixon’s “I Just Want to Make Love to You” and “A Real Mother for You” by Johnny “Guitar” Watson. All these tunes are likely on the set list for the festival.
“It’s gonna be fun,” says the singer. “A huge audience gets to see Barrence Whitfield get funky again.”
It’s not exactly “back to the roots” for the Beverly-based singer, best known for his work with his rock band Barrence Whitfield and the Savages. “I never left the roots,” he says. “It’s more like getting back to the funk” — and back to his
youth in New Jersey. “It’s bringing back some cool memories and lots of things to work with. Little Richard, Funkadelic, James Brown: It’s all from the same vein. For me, it’s like going back home.”
For the Horns, the collaboration “gives us a whole different dimension,” says Savluk. “It lets us kick up the party a little bit.”
“I think people are going to be blown away because they haven’t heard Barrence sing soul in a long time,” says Douglas.
Over the years, organizers believe, the festival will become a self-sustaining entity. For now, though, they’re just hoping for good weather and a good time.
“It’s a serious, good-time party thing,” says Douglas. “I always want the people at the shows to have fun, and feel good. I like to see smiling faces out there.”
August 17, 2007
Boston Horns kick brass in Japan
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The biggest thing in Japan hits Johnny D’s in Somerville’s Davis Square tomorrow night. That would b...The biggest thing in Japan hits Johnny D’s in Somerville’s Davis Square tomorrow night. That would be the Boston Horns, just back from a whirlwind tour of Japan, where the Beantown funk-jazz sextet became such a sensation they were booked in Japan’s most exclusive clubs.
Longtime fans know the story about how the onetime Heavy Metal Horns enjoyed much success in Japan, even having one of their tunes used as the theme song for a Japanese TV game show. But the perennial New England club favorites - renamed the Boston Horns to better reflect their funk, rock and jazz stylings - are astounded by their most recent surge in popularity during a two-week tour of Japan that left their heads spinning.
‘‘We were treated like kings,’’ said saxophonist Henley Douglas Jr. from his North Shore home. ‘‘Five-star hotels, first-class hotels, by far one of our best experiences ever in music. Our show at the Quattro club in Tokyo was sold out a month in advance.’’
Other plum bookings followed in Osaka and Nagoya, before the band returned to the States on Nov. 17.
‘‘We apparently got shot to the head of the club scene almost immediately based upon the popularity of our records over there,’’ said Douglas, who credits much of that success to the group’s ties to Japan’s P-Vine Records.
Once the company signed the band two year’s ago, it released ‘‘Boston Horns: Live from Boston 2005,’’ and quickly followed it with ‘‘Bring On the Funk,’’ a compilation of the sextet’s past recordings.
In anticipation of last month’s tour, P-Vine recorded another live album at Harpers Ferry in Allston and the Madfish in Gloucester.
The CD, titled ‘‘Boston Horns: Live 2006,’’ was an instant hit after its September release in Japan, said Douglas, noting how flattered the band felt when they saw their album being prominently promoted in the window of a Tower Records in Tokyo.
How the band ended up on P-Vine Records is a neat story in itself. Holed up at a friend’s house in Maine, the band got to thinking about finding a record company to promote them in Japan. Soon after, old pal Kevin Canning, an employee at the Canadian embassy in Tokyo, came to Maine for a visit and
returned to Japan with a Horns CD that he presented to P-Vine. Two days later the record company called and asked for rights to everything they’d ever recorded.
Douglas and trumpeter Garret Savluk have led the various mutations of the Horns during the past two decades. The current lineup - including Jeff Buckridge, guitar; Eric Sayre, bass; Ben Zecker, keyboards; and Peter MacLean, drums - has been stable for several years, contributing to the band’s
sharp improvisational skills.
It is expected, however, that Vinnie DeBruglia will soon replace Sayre on bass.
‘‘Ben Zecker is our only full-time musician,’’ said Douglas, pointing out that other members hold other jobs, such as teaching.
‘‘We’re lucky in that we all have very flexible schedules,’’ said Douglas, adding that Europe and Asia are lucrative markets for rock, blues, jazz, and funk bands.
‘‘Europe and Japan have always really been into improvisational music, and more open to different styles. The Groove Collective is a good example,’’ Douglas added. ‘‘They’re a band out of New York that has played almost exclusively in Europe for 10 years or more, and been very successful.’’
The Boston Horns hope to next play a couple dates in the Netherlands and in Switzerland before returning in March to record their next studio album.
They also plan to boost their horn section with P-Vine labelmate Sam Kininger - best known for the band Soulive - and Big Sam Williams on trombone.
‘‘He’s an incredible talent,’’ Douglas says of Big Sam.
Can the Horns ever come down from the affection they felt in Japan?
‘‘Garret and I have been doing this for 20 years, and I can’t tell you how satisfying it was for us to see that kind of reaction,’’ Douglas said. ‘‘We’ve never received so much love from fans. ‘Those were terrific clubs with phenomenal sound systems and great crews. We had a blast.’’
After recent gigs at Regatta Bar in Cambridge and the Knitting Factory in New York City, The Boston Horns are looking forward to a New Year’s Eve show (tickets $50) at Woodman’s in Essex.
Jay N. Miller
December 8, 2006
Music Review: East Coast Funk
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"Reconstituting the funky fire of the late Heavy Metal Horns and dumping the pop aspirations that ul..."Reconstituting the funky fire of the late Heavy Metal Horns and dumping the pop aspirations that ultimately silenced the band, the Boston Horns go back to the future on `East Coast Funk.`
Trumpeter Garret Savluk and saxophonist Henley Douglas, both founding HMH members, front a band that rides in the pocket alongside such new-jack acid-jazzers as Karl Denson, Galactic and their brassy brethren. But the roots of the Boston Horns go back to the soul-jazz of the late '60s and the proto-funk of the Crusaders, Tower of Power and Melvin Sparks, whose exquisitely greasy lines grace some of `East Coast Funk.`
But those roots fail to still the band's happy feet, which traverse bop, New Orleans second-line rhythms,
Sly Stone funk and even a taste of the Tijuana Brass on `Jackie's Song.`"
Kevin R. Conway
August 22, 2003
An Interview with the Boston Horns
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The Boston Horns have just released their third CD titled You've Got To Find Your Own Groove. It fe...The Boston Horns have just released their third CD titled You've Got To Find Your Own Groove. It features Henley Douglas, Jr., on saxophones, flute, and vocals and Garret Savluk on trumpet and vocals. Henley and Garret have been playing together for nearly twenty years. Their sound is rooted in the tradition of soul jazz but also incorporates many modern influences. Through their work together with Ricky Ford, the Big Blues Meanies, Heavy Metal Horns and now the Boston Horns they have played everywhere from the night club down the street to a major world tour with the rock band Extreme. Henley said recently, "The longer I stay in the music business the more humble I am about every gig that comes my way. It's so hard to be a musician and we take it for granted sometimes but I am truly grateful for every call I get." And Henley and Garret get tons of calls because they are true professionals who know how to get the job done in practically any musical situation.
*Let's start from the beginning with both of you. Henley, how did you get involved with music?
HENLEY DOUGLAS (HD): I'm from San Jose, California. I ended up here after I got out of the Coast Guard. I went to New England Conservatory way back in 1978. I went for two years and then after that I continued private lessons with my instructors. At the time I wanted to learn as much music as I could. I had three private instructors, one for composition and two for saxophone. I studied saxophone with Joe Allard and Bill Pierce.
Joe Allard was an amazing teacher. I attribute my tone to him. We used to work on nothing but tone. It's funny because I was studying with Bill Pierce and he was the student right after me for his lesson with Joe Allard!
*How did you get started, Garret?
GARRET SAVLUK (GS): I was born and raised in Windsor, Connecticut. That's where I got exposed to jazz. Our band director, Wayne Johnson, was actually a classical trombonist and discovered this love of jazz. He had one of the first Smithsonian jazz collections and the cassette tapes, too. Later on I wound up going to Berklee College of Music and moving to Boston. I was a student from 1985 to 1990.
*I'm surprised we didn't run into each other.
GS: We probably did at some point. I remember when I was in junior high school we used to crank up the Bill Chase record all the time.
* Not many people even know about that record now.
GS: It’s a great loss. But we used to play those Bill Chase charts and we did them on a variety show once. So I got the bug early.
* Did you graduate from Berklee?
GS: Yes. I got a degree in Performance. My first teacher on trumpet was Lou Mucci. He lived in New York City and he was on the NBC circuit, doing some of their TV shows and he also played on some cool big band records. He was an old time cat. I also studied with Greg Hopkins and he was such a maniac with his writing abilities.
*How did you and Henley meet?
GS: It's kind of funny. The Hartford Jazz Society would bring in artists. I saw Freddie Hubbard there, Clark Terry and one of the guys who came through there was Ricky Ford. I ran into him again in New York and he mentioned that he was teaching at Brandeis University and he needed a trumpet for the big band. The Brandeis Jazz Ensemble was half students and half other players. Henley was one of the other players. So that's where I met him. We did some fun gigs and Ricky had great charts. He had Ellington charts, charts from Mingus, Jay McShann, and Mary Lou Williams.
HD: He had this suitcase that weighed like two hundred pounds. It had all the music in it.
* I did about half a dozen or so rehearsals and one concert with that group, too. Were you guys on it? I had called Ricky looking for space to teach some of my students and he asked me if I wanted to play with the group. I lived right down the street so I did it until I moved. The concert I was on we did the last chart that Thad Jones wrote (and that Brandeis had commissioned) and a long Abdullah Ibrahim chart. Our friend Jon Fraser was there and he sang and rapped on a tune.
GS: We might have all been on that one.
HD: I don’t think I was one that concert because I would have remembered you!
* I came over with my tenor and I think my wife was pregnant at the time so we didn't stay to hang after the show.
GS: About a year later Henley and I hooked up on some local gigs.
HD: I was playing with a band called the Wrecking Crew. I got Garret on some of those gigs. Then we had another group called the Big Blues Meanies, which was a huge band with like a six piece horn section. From there we did the Heavy Metal Horns.
* Henley, you were in a band called Skin back in the 1980’s. You guys were big when I was in college.
HD: Yeah, that was a good band. Prior to Skin I had a jazz band that used to play over at Satch's and I really enjoyed that. But I wanted to learn more about the music business and I really wanted to have a band like the Jazz Crusaders. It was an instrumental band that could play rock clubs and funk clubs. And Skin had a few instrumentals. We used to rehearse about three times a week and it was so different from the way things go at our rehearsals now. Back then with that band it was all this drama going on and I would leave and go upstairs to the bar on the corner. Mick Goodrick was hanging out there and I would sit and have a beer with him and try to get my head together before I had to go back to dealing with the band at rehearsal. He talked me back into sticking with that band and he really encouraged me to learn and play all kinds of music.
* How did the Heavy Metal Horns get started?
GS: The Blues Meanies opened for the Del Fuegos at Bunratty's and they loved the horn section. They wanted to use us on their next record for RCA that they were doing at Longview Studios. So we needed a name for the horn section and we came up with the Heavy Metal Horns. We called some guys and tried to put a band around the section.
HD: We hooked up with guitarist Peter Calo and he knew the people at Ryle's in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We did this one gig at an outside afternoon show, the booking agent for Ryle's was there and loved us. He gave us every Sunday night and basically said to us that the first time the club is empty you're done. We kept that gig running for over two years and got some huge gigs out of it. I think that's how we hooked up with the Montreal Jazz Festival so that really worked out for us. We made some great connections doing that hit. We got our sound together down there. We were very lucky.
GS: Our first record came from that stint, and we worked with George Kucewicz from Square Records. This guy was definitely someone who knew some people and he had worked with Skin. He got our first album licensed in Japan and one of the songs became a hit on this TV game show.
HD: When we started touring we went to New Orleans and got really lucky there. We got a gig at Tipitina's just because they liked the band. They didn't expect a big crowd and suddenly like 250 or 300 people showed up. It turns out a kid that went to school in Boston had our first six song cassette and he took it to his friend at the Tulane radio station. One of our songs became popular and all these kids showed up to see us. It blew Tipitina's away so much that they had us play the opening set for Dr. John's first gig back at the next Jazz Fest. The audience was full of stars (Tower of Power, Allman Brothers), just hanging out. Dr. John had this horn section of cats that were like sixty years old and they just kicked. That's when he had Red Tyler in the horn section.
* Tell me a little bit about the concept behind the Heavy Metal Horn's line up and sound.
HD: When I first had the idea for the band Garret really had my back. The rest of the guys in the horn section thought it was crazy and it wasn't going to work. We just had this thing that we were going to break all the rules about having a ten piece horn band.
GS: Playing originals.
GS: But we had some covers.
HD: Yeah, we had some cool covers. We played the game. That's how come we got the gigs that we got because we had a few vocals. Thaddeus Hogarth was in the band and he's a great songwriter and singer. We were really lucky with that band and we were able to do some national tours. That eventually led to our world tour with Extreme.
GS: Somebody saw a video of us doing a party in the park and they hired us for the tour.
* That must have been a great tour.
HD: Like being touched by the hand of God, man, it was great. We were the biggest Jethros for the first month of that tour. We dialed it in right quick.
GS: I learned three years worth of stuff in like six months, just everything.
* Extreme really was huge that year and the band sounded great. Who was in the section for that tour?
GS: It was Hikaru on trombone and John Vanderpool on tenor. Henley played bari on the gig. We totally lucked out. It was a good gig for us. They originally tried to hire the Miami Horns but they were too busy with their recording schedule to do the tour.
* What the biggest crowd you've ever played for with the Heavy Metal Horns?
HD: Someone saw us at Ryle's and they were involved with the Montreal Jazz Festival. There was a last minute cancellation and we went up there to do it. They had a van come pick us up and took us directly to a trailer behind the stage. So we went never went on the stage and we were just hanging out, drinking beers, eating sandwiches and all of a sudden our roadie runs out on stage and we heard this roar. He comes back and says that there's like 10,000 people out there and that the place was only half full! So we played this gig for 20,000 people outdoors on the street and we just destroyed them. We did such a good job they invited us back to do the fifteenth anniversary which was in front of 40,000 people and Dr. John's band was checking us out because they were on the same bill. We got touched a couple of times, man, some really nice hits.
GS: And they were beautiful musical experiences, too.
* How did the Heavy Metal Horns break up?
GS: As time went on a guy would leave so we'd replace him. It's like modifying your house so much that it's nothing like the house you had. Because of that the whole direction of the band was affected. A new guy would come in with a bunch of material that people thought was cool and we'd have to sacrifice it when he split. It just morphed too much. And then Henley left but I stayed and I was kind of deep into it. We had an album that we were trying to finish up so I did that. About a year later I kind of had enough dealing with the band and all the problems.
HD: I just decided to take a left turn and move on to some other things. Musically I just had something I really wanted to do and check out. The band had changed and at that point in time I felt like I loved that band and it was great. But it was ten guys and you can't be telling ten guys what you want to do, it's got to be a thing where everybody wants to do it. At the time I was married and I had a little girl so I was just looking at my life differently. But I have to say that with all my musical endeavors I'm real honest about it. I love the fact that Garret and I have been playing together for eighteen years and I am still humbled by the fact that we can go out and play mostly original instrumental music with a couple of obscure cover tunes and some original vocal tunes and we get clubs dancing and people partying. I'll be on this circuit until the day I die.
GS: After Henley left he hooked up with Ron Levy and he called me to come check it out. We started to get a couple of gigs and I actually really believed in the group. And by the time I got back from doing the first tour with Ron there were no more Heavy Metal Horns gigs left so it had just kind of fizzled. But it was a great run.
HD: The cool thing about the Levy gig was that we did a show with Deep Banana Blackout and Karl Denson. We heard Karl play and we knew we had to get a band back together again. It was such an inspiration.
* So tell me how you got the Boston Horns started.
GS: We did an EP with the rhythm section from this band Pass the Peas.
HD: Julie Dougherty was the original singer.
* What happened with her?
HD: Just basically the way the band was developing. We realized we wanted to do more instrumentals and it's hard to have a vocalist in the band that wants to sing and your repertoire is like forty percent vocals, if that.
And there are a lot of instrumental bands and artists that have vocals in and out of their sets, Like Galactic and Maceo Parker
GS: We like to throw in some vocals.
* Did you record Live on your CDs?
GS: More or less. We try to keep as much of the tracks as possible.
* One of the first things I listen for on a horn record is the production. I want know what mics are used, if there are any compressors used and what the EQ settings might be. It’s interesting to me to see how much of the dry sound approach is used. On your three CDs I hear you guys starting out with a good honest room sound and through into the third CD that sound has just really dialed in. Every voice is finding its spot in the mix and the horns sound great.
HD: That's a big tribute to Garret. I think he has a knack for hearing things. We've done all of our CDs with Dan Tarlow and he understands what we do.
* So Garret, you do a lot of mixing?
GS: I don't claim to be an expert or anything like that but I have an opportunity to try and do something and I have a guy that is willing to work with me.
* What is the signal path for the horns? Did you use your live mics or studio mics?
HD: I use an RE20 live and Dan had some great mics there, some cool ribbon mics. We used the Radar 24 for recording and we used Pro Tools for mixing. We also used some Avalon pre amps during the recording.
* You didn't use a lot of reverb on the horns. There are tunes with delay and wah and envelope filters but for the most part the horns have that great dry sound.
GS: I always go for that dry sound. No reason in particular, just trying to blend the trumpet and tenor together with the most natural, raw sound that I could. And then Dan would put a little on at the end.
* It sounds like there's a nice reverb on the entire mix and the horns really stand out. It reminds me of the soul jazz bands like The Crusaders. It some ways you reminded me of the Adderley brothers with that very tight dry sound and you both sounded so locked in.
HD: We like the old school way of playing it as tight as possible. I did a jazz CD just like that and we kept like ninety percent of those tracks.
* On the first CD the drums sound very jazzy. It's pushed back a bit and the snare sound isn't quite as up front as usual. And then the second CD had a bit more toms on it and now on the third CD the drums have a more rock approach. The snare has a place in the mix.
HD: We changed rhythm sections between the last two CDs and that's a great analogy. The first drummer we had was more of a jazz player and then we decided we wanted a heavier foot going on.
After the second CD came out we were already thinking about changing the sound. We went to Jazz Fest that year and after hearing all this great music it made me feel like changing directions.
GS: The way it changed with the rhythm section was a really natural thing. There was that element and then there was the fact that at the time some of the guys in the group needed some time off so we had to find some new people. So it wasn't a conscious effort to get this guy and that guy is gone. And now it's changed again and I think it's for the better.
HD: After the thing with our last rhythm section we decided that we were going to just hire cats and contract it out. Speaking of which, you have to come out with us, Andrew!
GS: That would take it out over the top.
HD: The Heavy Metal Horns, they're back.
* We'll get together soon for the Heavy Metal Attack! So you both do a lot of writing?
HD: Yeah, and Jeff Buckridge, our guitarist, does a lot, too. Sometimes the other band members get a tune in, too.
* You guys write together as well.
GS: That can happen a lot in rehearsal. I'll bring in a tune and Henley will just tweak it out a little. Change a groove here, add a line there. On the song In The Pink Jeff helped me out with the descending line. I knew what I wanted but I didn't have time to figure it out and Jeff did that. Things like that kind of are the character of the Boston Horns.
HD: The one thing that Garret and I have done for the past eighteen years is rehearse. Back in the days with the Heavy Metal Horns we rehearsed that band three times a week. Now we just do once a week but I still think that rehearsing is the key. We've had other musicians come sit in at our rehearsals and they were totally blown away by our rehearsals. We get together and we just do music.
* It seems that most instrumental bands have a certain groove that is their focus. For Galactic it's New Orleans funk, with Maceo Parker it's an extension of the James Brown funk, what is the central groove with the Boston Horns?
GS: I don't think there is a focus on a certain groove with us. I think the focus is that there is going to be this horn band with two horns guys playing a variety of grooves.
HD: There are sections of our set that come off with a Tower of Power groove. I come from the Bay area and I grew up with those guys. We've done a bunch of shows with TOP and Garret toured with them for a little while. Then there were the world beat sections where it was like a whole other hand up there. We enjoy investigating all types of grooves, and it works.
* When you write music what equipment do use?
GS: Usually just writing stuff down on paper. I have this little Olympus digital voice recorder so if I get an idea I can sing it and figure it out later. Then I get out my horn and figure out what each part is going to be.
HD: I have a keyboard with a little sequencer in it so I'll come up with a melody and put some chords to it. I pick out one of the cheese ball rhythm tracks just to get the idea across.
GS: Henley found some old charts recently that he didn't have recordings of so he just taught it to us.
HD: That was fun. When I write I use clusters. I'm notorious for bringing in a chart and people are looking at me like what the hell are you thinking. But I come up with voicings that are based on the total sound over the bass note and what the rest of the band is doing. I wrote a lot of songs for Heavy Metal Horns like that. Once everybody learned their part it would come out really nice.
*It's like the Herb Pomeroy line writing concept where it's more important to have a good singable line than to honor the rules of voicing chords.
HD: Garret again had my back when I would bring these charts in because the guys in the band had all been to Berklee and he convinced them to try my ideas.
GS: Henley has taught me about having a different attitude towards things. The way he writes things he's pushing the envelope and not being normal.
HD: Sometimes when they hear it they'll make adjustments to make it work.
*Let's talk a bit about your playing styles.
HD: I consider myself to be a very weird saxophone player I definitely have my own style, It's the most honest thing I do, I shed, I study all the time, and I love all these horn players that I hear. But when I get ready to play, man, I don't know what's coming out of my horn.
*What do you work on when you're shedding?
HD: I'm continually searching triads and then of course chromaticism. I've been working on a lot of the stuff off the web from Tim Price. I love his approach, it's very cool. His stuff is excellent and I've been getting my students into it, too. He has these great things all written out but he always tells you to play this but turn it into your own thing. It's powerful stuff.
* What about you, Garret?
GS: To be honest I'm just trying to work on my technique and keep it honed. I teach every day in the public schools in Natick and Billerica.
* Who were your influences in music?
GS: In the trumpet world it's Clifford Brown, Freddie Hubbard, Clark Terry, Louis Armstrong and Roy Eldridge. My favorite saxophone players are Johnny Griffin and Johnny Hodges. Of course, I like Charlie Parker and John Coltrane but do you know who else? Harold Land is one of my all time favorites. He did a bunch of records with Blue Mitchell that are my favorite jazz records.
HD: One of my number one guys of all time is Joe Henderson. He's taken the saxophone and just gone to some incredibly beautiful places, And nothing for nothing, man, but Red Garland is a big inspiration. He has an album with Oliver Nelson playing on it and this trumpet player, I forget his name. Of course, I like Trane and Brecker, I love so many players. Guys like Stanley Turrentine and Dexter Gordon. They play the sweetest most soulful lines and sounds.
* Henley, you've played with my band a couple of times and Garret, you and I have worked together with Michigan Blacksnake. The one thing I can say about the both of you is that you are killer readers. Do you spend time working on it or did it just come from experience?
GS: I've been doing a lot of big band rehearsals and that keeps my reading pretty sharp.
HD: Yeah, Garret got me in to that band a few months ago, I love playing in big bands mainly for that reason, I've been playing for a long time and I'm just now starting to get comfortable with my reading. I did a gig with the Love Dogs and they said I was reading the book down and I felt good because for a long time my reading was kind of iffy. And of course writing and working parts out helps, And teaching!
GS: For me, trying to transcribe, just getting down a lick.
* That's what I noticed about both of you. Not only can you read the notes accurately, but you understand how it supposed to sound and you play it correctly right away.
HD: After playing with Garret for eighteen years I've learned how to blend with other people and that's a big part of reading, too. Just knowing how your part fits in.
Gettin' Heavy with the Boston Horns
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I have to admit I really dig the solid, no strings-attached funk'n'horns music of the seventies. Pas...I have to admit I really dig the solid, no strings-attached funk'n'horns music of the seventies. Pass the peas, baby, and whatever it is, it's gots to be funky. With all the phenomenal fusion of sounds these days it's sometimes hard to find a band that lays it on fat and pure, in the style of the original masters and old-school groove kings.
Enter Boston Horns. A seven-piece collection of trumpet, sax, keys, guitar, drums, bass, and congas, Boston Horns lays down a classic sound that is the pillar of all things good and groovy in today's onslaught of fusion. Their pedigree would make most Irish Setters blush. Founded by former members of the now-defunct Heavy Metal Horns, a legendary Boston-area jazz/funk ensemble that toured with major
acts like Extreme and developed strong following of their own, the band features musicians with serious experience. Co-founders Henley Douglas on sax and Garret Savluk on trumpet have reams of accolades to their names and have played with the likes of Tower of Power, the Del Fuegos, Chucklehead, Entrain, Jah Spirit, James Montgomery, Ron Levy, and Shockra.
There's no gimmick to their sound. You will detect a hint of 1920's big band swing, a touch of Afro-latin, and a whiff of psychedelia that diversifies the sound, but never pulls the band off their track of straight-ahead good-time energy. True to their name, the group is brass-centric, but the intense horn jams are layered on heavy-duty bass, drum, organ, and guitar. One listen to the demo CD and I was hooked
– the first track, "It's In Your Face," comes straight out with crisp brass fury and a fat rhythm section behind it. It was reminiscent of some of the JB's work, although edgier and mostly instrumental, with "the occasional vocal throw-down." Having a god-honest horn 'section' does wonders for funk, especially on top of wa-tinged guitar riffs, the sax dropping baritone bombs into the spaces between bright
trumpet hits. Drummer Jack Howard provided incredible percussion, and Guitarist Jeff Buckridge complemented with some fiery guitar work. Heady stuff.
Their live show Thursday, with New Orleans-based openers Brotherhood of Groove, brought it all home at Johnny D's in Somerville. Boston Horns had played with the Brotherhood down in N'awlins for the Jazz Fest, and the Brotherhood were in the neighborhood for a little Cajun/Beantown reunion. It was a potent combo of funk and jazz.
The Horns started off the night with the aforementioned "It's In Your Face," which didn't come out of the gate with as much chutzpah as it does on the studio recording, but it didn't take long for the band to find their fire. From there they went into a series of smokers, each with a unique angle and jam: "Boogie Stop Shuffle," a Mingus tune and title track of their upcoming CD; "Maybe Tonight," a Latin Calypso flavored number sporting guitarist Jeff Buckridge on timbales; "52 Megatons of Soul," which included one of the best washboard jams
I've ever seen; Henley's big-baritone sax monster "Soul's Avenue," followed by "Alarm Clock Kickin" and then the most JB-ish of their tunes, "Head in the History," a great tune with some bad, bad vocal grooves, the kind of infectious chorus that gets everyone singing and clapping and shaking like it was some kind of revival: "I got my head in the history, I've got my feet on the dancefloor!" Finger-licking good.
The two closing tunes really brought the groove together. Joined by Brandon Tarricone, guitarist for the Brotherhood of the Groove, the Horns pulled out two new ones, "Sidestep" and "The Skillet," wrapping up the night with a last blast of heat. The guitars took center stage in these final moments. Brandon Tarricone applied a unique, organ-sounding effect to his axe in "Sidestep" and deftly jumped into
unknown territory - gracefully at first - then tore into a powerful jam. In the closer Skillet though the two guitarists fused and traded some ferociously funky licks. All night long Buckridge had been backing the horns with a measured amount of rhythm and jam; his sound reminded me of Grant Green, never unnecessarily complex, slightly halting, always complementary and clean. When the horns would
cut and he'd be there, bearing down hard into a sound that left any notion of lounge jazz far behind. But with Tarricone antagonizing he really let it fly in the last moments and the result was a phenomenal fusion of guitar jam, horn feast, and percussion onslaught.
Keep your heads up for their upcoming CD, Boogie Stop Shuffle . They play fairly often in the Boston and North Shore area, and have a harbor cruise gig on September 21st out of Beverly which should not be missed.
Head in the History with the Boston Horns
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Halloween is not a time to hide from the Boston music scene with all that it has to offer, last nigh...Halloween is not a time to hide from the Boston music scene with all that it has to offer, last night being no exception. The show that I chose was an intimate gathering at the Regatta Bar celebrating the release of Boogie Stop Shuffle, The Boston Horns' debut effort. A mixture of deep funk and jazz rhythms, this album is proof positive that the old 70’s JB’s sound is alive and well, and in addition, can be blended with contemporary jazz interpretations.
The front men for this 6-piece powerhouse of funk is none other than the duo of Garrett Savluk on trumpet, and Henley Douglas Jr. on sax, formerly of the Heavy Metal Horns. Standing out on the guitar is Jeff Buckridge, and his counter part on bass is Mike Rush. Mark Longo is the utterly enthusiastic man at the keys, and Jack Howard Jr. is the percussionist. In a fashion that had both jazz etiquette and freelance funk, the sextet played 2 sets of tight jams.
The Regatta Bar in Harvard Square is a small jazz joint that has many similarities to its Boston counterpart, Scullers. Both have a nautical theme, both in upscale hotels, and both are often sit down, buttoned up and reserved in style. But the Regatta Bar stands out for having the Boston Horns this Halloween night.
While the crowd was intimate, the sound was reaching down the stairs, out the big bay windows on to the rainy Cambridge Street, and seeping into the ears of the attentive audience. It is always a pleasure to be in the presence of people who make great music, and those who appreciate it. In the first set the crew went from playing their homespun funk to interpretations of jazz classics. Like mad scientists in their Halloween costumes, they conjured and concocted from a thorough knowledge of music. The first of these thematic covers was a sped up, ska style, "Barbados" (Charlie Parker). Bird would have been pleased with the new sound derived from his classic, as would Mingus with The Horns interpretation of "Boogie Stop Shuffle." Chosen as the title track for the new disc, this bass heavy jazz tune was transformed into a mosaic that included a monster guitar solo by Jeff Buckridge.
This blending of flavors and sounds continued on into the second set, with "Head in the History," a tune that features several vignettes of classic jazz and funk hits. "History" is a perfect tune to look at to exemplify this band’s talents, a hard hitting funk beat that gives way to beautiful horn riffs by Garret and Henley. More original tunes filled out the second set, the last two of which call for special attention; "Afro Soup" and "850." The former is a calypso style beat that is reminiscent of Paul Simon’s Graceland. A fun and free tune, "Afro Soup" sounds at first to be dance number, but has many complex rhythms weaved throughout. Then "850" is fast and furious funk, dripping with bass and creating the sonic enormity that fills a room with music. "850" is a brand new funk classic, listen to it and love it, you have no choice.
Taking a page from the great ones, and writing a few of their own, the Boston Horns are the real deal. Educators (literally) and historians, bringing music to the people. Grab the disc and take a listen, whatever the tune, the Boston Horns make it funky.
Boogie Stop Shuffle (CD review)
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Afros are back, so it figures that the best of the 1970s' music should also make a welcome return. T...Afros are back, so it figures that the best of the 1970s' music should also make a welcome return. The funky jazz stylings of Maceo Parker, the Crusaders and Galactic are taken to a new level on this excellent disc by the Boston Horns. Douglas and Saviuk, alumni of the Heavy Metal Horns, rock the house with a suitably powerful rhythm section.
"Head in the History" tips us off as to what we should expect from this fun ride: a deep Nawlins-funk groove with a group vocal chant and scattered quotes from Bird, Miles, Dizzy, et al. But it's Buckridge's ganky wah guitar tone and Rush's impeccably fluid bass figures that really sell the product on tracks like this one and "Chez Buckway". A wild modernization of Charles Mingus' title track comes off like an ecstatic combination of road-race and gang fight.
This style of music always runs the risk of falling into sameness, but the BoHos avoid that pitfall with countless creative turns. "Medicine Man" is purest swamp boogie; "Next Time" picks up the pace with a speedy riff melody that takes off at the bridge; and "Maybe 2 Nite" is a Latin-inflected hoot. Rush and Buckridge shine once again on the uplifting township vibe of "Afro Soup", showing off yet another side of this multifaceted unit. From jazz to funk and well beyond, the Boston Horns have it goin' on!
This is just sample - our repertoire is extensive.
It's in your Face: Original song, Tower of Power-style funk
In the Pink: Original song, up tempo funk / ferocious horn lines
Speedball: Original song, guitar skankin’ funk with funky horns
Ain't it Funky Now: The classic by Jimmy McGriff
Pass the Peas / Bring on the Funk: James and Maceo would be proud…
A Thousand Souls: Original song, spacey, rubato intro, kicks into a jam!
Ask Me Later – Original – Instrumental fun. This song is being covered by funk bands in Japan!
Express Yourself – The funk /soul classic done Boston Horns style!
Pink Polyester – Original, our first hit in Japan! (2006)
Sets average an hour in length. We have done 2 hours straight. We play mostly original music, but do a few covers including; “Crosstown Traffic’, ‘Pass the Peas’, ‘Funk 49’ and ‘Givin' up Food for Funk’.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.