Jason Seed Elixir Ensemble
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Jason Seed Elixir Ensemble

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"SXSW snippet"

The Jason Seed Elixir Ensemble from Milwaukee filled the basement club on Congress with eccentric, freakishly tight jazz late Thursday night.

(about the elixir's SXSW performance at the Elephant Room) - Dallas Morning News

"SXSW song review"

Jazz-prog samba with vibes, sax, a hep drummer, a nice mid-song Jeff Beck-style guitar solo and Jason Seed's smooth vocals make this a welcome side-trip on our mix.
...just one of many "projects" for Jason means he's a functioning professional musician who doesn't need all the hype crap.

- in reference to the song Ol Striped Carp on the SXSW website - Vinyl Mine

"cd review"


“Genre-bending” is a term that gets thrown around by critics nowadays nearly as much as “original,” yet Jason Seed seems to have a firm grip on both with his latest project, Delusions. Backed by the Elixir Ensemble, a ragtag posse of Milwaukee jazz all-stars, Seed combines everything from jazz, funk and rock to samba and classical in a highly unclassifiable and danceable psychedelic stew. The group’s first full-length release is rooted in an emerging new wave of twenty-something, college-versed jazz scholars whose instrumental mastery and knowledge of musical roots is teamed with a fiercely independent and distinctive compositional approach (see Chicago’s Freespace for striking sonic similarities). While undoubtedly indebted to the stoner/jazz aficionado barrier-breaking movement sparked by bands like Phish, Seed and the Ensemble don’t let incessant noodling or self-important soloing supercede their catchy pop hooks and hummable melodies.

Seed, at times, is largely reminiscent of Frank Zappa, with off-the-wall and obscurely humorous lyrics segueing into guitar wizardry; at other times, and for much the same reason, the Ensemble conjures Steely Dan, with a polished rock/pop sound laced with complex jazz changes and horn arrangements. While the off-beat groove of “The Ol’ Striped Carp,” complete with its refrain of “you turned into a carp,” might sound at home on an early Mothers of Invention album, Seed has digested his influences and assimilated them into his own style. It is with this album-opening tune, and with the wit and clever verbiage of “Start All Over Again,” that Seed demonstrates an imaginative songwriting ability that perfectly augments his precise and understated guitar chops. Having such a tight backing band doesn’t hurt your compositional cause either; throughout, the grooves are kept funky and driving by the bass playing of Dave Dinauer and the drumming of Sam Monroe, and mellowed perfectly with the vibraphone and steel drums of Carl Storniolo.

The importance of Delusions most probably lies in the time and place the album captures—it is a fully realized version of the oftentimes brilliant, informal jam sessions that take place on a weekly basis in Milwaukee haunts such as the Jazz Estate.

The Jason Seed Elixir Ensemble celebrates their CD Release Saturday, July 30, 10 p.m. at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn.

—Todd Lazarski

- milwaukee shepherd express


The Eclectic Sounds of Jason Seed
By Carloline Goyette

The Jason Seed Elixir Ensemble had taken over the Jazz Estate. As the band assembled for their set, the instrument tally mounted: saxophones, trumpet and flugelhorn; vibraphone, steel drums and flute; bass and drums, a violin. Leading the show as guitarist and vocalist, Jason Seed made the conquer complete, saturating the compact venue with the eclectic, inventive sounds of his original compositions.

A relative newcomer to Milwaukee, Seed has lived and played in cities ranging from Chicago to New York to Seattle to L.A., gigging with artists including Jessica Lurie, Trey Gunn, Bill Frisell and Steve Gillis. The Elixir Ensemble, one of several of Seed’s musical projects, recently released their debut, Delusions, a multi-genre work that fuses jazz, rock, classical, dixie, rockabilly and other influences into a unique musical experience. Noize talked recently with Seed about his composition process, the music industry, sloughing off dead skin cells and crossing musical genres in Milwaukee.

Noize: You’ve been in Milwaukee for almost two years—that’s really not that long to have made the connections you have. How did you go about establishing yourself in the music community—was it difficult?

Jason Seed: It’s a process. You’ve got to take CDs around and bug people, and then if you can get a couple gigs, you go find all the people you want to play with. … My friend Jesse [Sheehan], who I actually met when I moved out to Portland—we had a quintet called Way Milky—helped get me some gigs. … I’m always looking for new people. The Elixir Ensemble is a rotating cast of people, it varies greatly. … It could be as many as 14 people, it could also be six.

N: You write all the music for the Elixir Ensemble. Can you tell me a little about your process?

JS: I just do it a lot. I have an enormous catalog of stuff, especially jazz tunes, about 60 or 70. It’s nice because at this point I have a big enough catalog that I can kind of cater to who I’m playing with. If I’m doing a jazz pickup gig, I can [accommodate a traditional saxophonist] or I can do Steve Colemanesque stuff if we want to be a little more rhythmically or harmonically stretchy. Or I can do stuff that’s more rock-oriented. I also have a bunch of classical, it’s just hard to get that stuff performed.

N: Did you have formal training for music?

JS: I went to Indiana University for music and religious studies. At the time, the music program there, they wanted me to write atonal music. And at the time, I couldn’t hear it, I was like, “What the fuck, I’m still trying to work with the major scale here.” I knew I was going way beyond my means. I brought in a piece that I had done where I just randomly wrote down notes without rhythm, and then randomly wrote in rhythm, not even thinking about how it sounded, and then randomly wrote in accidentals, and random bar lines for random meter, and I brought it into this guy, and he was like, “Oh, this is great, this is the direction you should be going in.” At the time, I was just like, “I’m leaving, I’m done.” …
After that I moved to Chicago, and ended up studying with a guy named Douglas Lofstrom. That was fantastic. I studied just with him for two-and-a-half years. … Present Music has played some of Doug’s stuff.

N: What effect did that training have on you?

JS: I got to do what I was really wanting to focus on. At the time, I wanted to focus on Baroque music. Basically absorbed as much Bach as possible, I was kind of obsessed. You can hear that in the stuff that I’m doing, in “The Sneed,” the horn backgrounds are the theme from “Little Fugue.” That one’s about the cat. We have this little cat we got from the pound, she’s really cute but she’s so dumb. … I thought it would be funny to juxtapose Bach, somebody with a brain the size of a planet, and this really dumb little animal.

N: How do you come up with ideas for songs? Do you just sort of hear it—and do you have a regular schedule where you’re working on music at a certain time every day?

JS: No, not really, it just kind of happens when it happens. I get a lot of ideas in the shower for some reason, I have no idea why.

N: I’ve heard a lot of people say that.

JS: For me, I think I’ve trained myself at this point, it’s like serious downtime. I know for the next ten minutes or so, I’m just going to be sitting in here, and I’m going to be wiping off dead skin cells. That’s my job, and your brain’s kind of free to just explore ...
I write music usually on a daily basis to get ideas down, just little sketches, kind of follow ideas wherever they go.

N: To what extent do you feel possessive of your compositions—when you’re on stage, do you feel, “Don’t do it that way …”?

JS: Yeah, quite a bit. One good thing, in the written sections of stuff—and the Elixir Ensemble has a lot of composed material—there are improvisational sections. And in those, I’ll usually tell people “Here’s - milwaukee shepherd express

"press clips"

The Jason Seed Elixir EnsemblePress:
“The Elixir Ensemble, one of several of Seed’s musical projects, recently released their debut, Delusions, a multi-genre work that fuses jazz, rock, classical, dixie, rockabilly and other influences into a unique musical experience.”
— Caroline Goyette, Milwaukee Shepherd Express

“Seed combines everything from jazz, funk and rock to samba and classical in a highly unclassifiable and danceable psychedelic stew...Seed, at times, is largely reminiscent of Frank Zappa, with off-the-wall and obscurely humorous lyrics segueing into guitar wizardry.”
— Todd Lazarski, Milwaukee Shepherd Express

"Jason Seed, reminiscent at times of John Scofield, surveys the territory between electric rock and straight-ahead jazz."
— Don Heckman, L.A. Times (In reference to Jason’s touring with the Jessica Lurie Ensemble)

"Jason Seed is actively using his own voice and space. The skillful development and execution of his original material along with his interpretation of standards and current artists indicates the breadth of the musical palette at his command."
— Todd Robinson, President of Luna Records (Indianapolis)

"Jason’s music is part of the long continuum of contemporary creativity characterized by inventive impulses that are carefully rooted in both tradition and the future...manages to simultaneously recall both the grandeurs of Pink Floyd and the trioisms of Bill Frisell."
— James Kirchmer, The Stranger (Seattle)(In reference to Jason’s first album “Zodiac”)

- numerous publications


Delusions - check out the tunes :
Ol Striped Carp, Skyfish, Night Creatures and a montage of others at


Feeling a bit camera shy


This group is all about ANYTHING GOES...musically speaking anyway. Genre be damned. Anything I like to listen to I also like to write so why not play it? The influences range from Frank Zappa to Hungarian Folk Music to Bill Withers to Bach to Phish to Steve Reich and Bill Frisell, Duke Ellington and Stravinsky....rock, funk, jazz, classical, r&b, blues, folk music from anywhere and alot of the whynot? aestethic...played SXSW this year and had a great time. the group moves between genres with ease touching on jam, jazz, rock, modern classical, funk, r&b, dixieland, free jazz