Oteil & the Peacemakers
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Oteil & the Peacemakers

Band Rock Jazz


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"Oteil Burbridge Wields His Bass for Peacemakers"

Like his Allman Brothers Band compatriots Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes, bassist Oteil Burbridge likes to keep busy. Last year, though, he pushed himself to the extreme.

"I played in six bands last year, and it was madness, total madness," he says with a laugh during a phone interview earlier this week.

Besides the Allman Brother Band and his own Peacemakers, which he brings to the Rongovian Embassy Monday night, he also played with Vida Blue (with Phish keyboardist Paige McConnell), Bass Extremes (with Flecktones bassist Victor Wooten), the Heavenly Jams Band with Yosi Piamenta, and a temporarily reunited Aquarium Rescue Unit, the band with which he first gained his reputation as a bass virtuoso.

"I really want to do just the Allman Brothers and the Peacemakers, and that's it," he says. "I'll probably end up doing the same amount of dates this year, but my focus won't be so dispersed. That's what really taxes you--six different set lists running through my head. It's insanity!"
The Peacemakers have been going on and off since 1995, but have gained momentum since 2000 due to a solidified lineup.

"I've had my keyboardist for two years this week, and it's just been great," he says. "The drummer used to changed constantly, too. I've had the same band for two years, and boy, does it make a difference."
Besides Burbridge, the Peacemakers include drummer Chris Fryar, guitarist Mark Kimbrell Matt Slocum on keyboards and Paul Henson on vocals.

"I've been playing with Mark for 15 years or more," notes Burbridge. "I was in Birmingham and he had this band called Itchy Wigs, and he played drums on my first record. It was just ridiculous! He's still my favorite guitar player. He's just unique, and hears a lot of the same cross-overs that I do, between jazz, rock and blues. We just hear things the same way.

"And it's the same way with all the guys," he continues. "I hear drums in terms of jazz, like an 18-inch bass drum and that tuning, but playing songs also. Chris is one of the few people I've met, and the only one I've ever played with, who approaches it that way."

Burbridge is frequently asked to describe the Peacemakers' music. "I finally come up with a term for it: 'fujosapel,' for funk, jazz and gospel.
The band's next CD is coming out in May. "I'm excited about it," he says.

"Usually, record companies pressure you to spit out an album a year, so what happens is you write the stuff and record it, but six months later you wish you had waited to record it then. We just purposely waited and played all the tunes on the road first, and let the tunes make their first and sometimes second mutation, and then record them. We cut it all in one day, like an old Monk record--we just went in and did it, and it was great. So I'm really pumped about it."

Despite his hectic lifestyle, Burbridge is grateful for all the opportunities that have come his way. "Oh, it's great," he says. "I always prayed that I would be busy someday. I remember starving and worried that I couldn't pay my electric bill and wishing my phone would ring So it's wonderful to be where I am now.

"And even with those six bands, I turned down so much stuff, man. And I'll probably be turning down a lot this year, too. Things evolve, and at this point in my career it's not just about having the work. For me it's about building up the Peacemakers and getting that going, because that's what I want to do for the rest of my life. Once the Allman Brothers is over, I don't want to the hired gun for another big rock band."

Visit www.oteilburbridge.com to keep up with the latest developments.
- The Ithaca Journal (2.17.05)


What the press are saying about Oteil Burbridge:

"Astonishing" - Rolling Stone

"Burbridge rips it up..." - Bass Player Magazine

“One of the greatest electric bassists of all time, Oteil Burbridge has finally made the recording that does his music most justice since his amazing live debut with the ARU in 1994. It, along with about 3 hours of added insight into the man and the band revealed via the fantastic DVD bonus material, should go a long way toward propelling him and the Peacemakers to well-deserved increased notoriety on the worldwide stage."
- AllAboutJazz.com

"Amazing" - Albums Network

“Burbridge and company move back and forth between vocal and instrumental numbers, but the intent is clear -- crisp interplay rules each track…” – Jambands.com

"My newest musical god" - CD Reviews

"Like Jaco Pastorius with his Word Of Mouth big band or Marcus Miller with his trusty sextet, Oteil Burbridge takes it up a notch with his group, the Peacemakers. His signature sing-along solos seem boundless, his pulsing grooves roam more freely, and even his trademark 6-string chords ring a bit more densely… The Family Secret, marks the recorded debut of the Peacemakers’ best lineup to date…" - Bass Player Magazine

“…The Family Secret is an improv-laced disc of nuanced fusion and jam band funk.” – AllMusic.com

“Oteil Burbridge is a true virtuoso…the Peacemakers are very much an ensemble and The Family Secret is proof of that. This music thrives on teamwork…The comfortable, relaxed interplay between the musicians…is what makes this disc worth seeking out.” – Relix Magazine

- Various


Believer (Rattlesby Records - 2005)
The Family Secret
Artist's House



Derek Trucks calls him “The Michael Jordan of the bass.” That’s probably the best place to start. For, although Oteil and the Peacemakers is made up of incredibly talented musicians, as evidenced by their new release, Believer, the music and the story always come back to Grammy-nominated Oteil Burbridge.

Believer, produced by Burbridge, Chris Tyler and Penn Robinson, features a blend of jazz, jam, funk and gospel grooves – and tremendously catchy words and melodies – that promises to propel this band into the jam – and jazz – forefront. In addition to Burbridge, the band consists of Chris Fryar on drums, Paul Henson on vocals, Mark Kimbrell on guitars and Matt Slocum on keys. The album will be released on Rattlesby Records on October 11, 2005, and is available online now at www.oteilburbridge.com.

Burbridge’s influences include jazz greats such as Jaco Pastorius, Stanley Clarke and Ron Carter, along with funk masters Larry Graham, Bootsy Collins and George Porter, Jr. In fact, cognoscenti and press who witnessed Oteil’s virtuoso performance of Pastorius’ “Three Views of a Secret” at last year’s Beacon Theater tribute uniformly called it the high point of the evening.

Burbridge has always been in demand as a session and live sideman – recently, he was simultaneously a member of six different bands! His first step into the national spotlight came in 1991, when he became a founding member of the Aquarium Rescue Unit, a legendary jam outfit that still does the occasional reunion gig. He is probably best known, though, for his membership in The Allman Bros. Band since 1997. He was an immediate success with ABB fans, earning raves for his six string bass version of “Little Martha.” His work with the band also earned him two Grammy nominations for best rock instrumental, in 2004 and in 2005. Along the way, he found time to collaborate with Phish’s Paige McConnell and The Funky Meters’ Russell Battiste on the jam unit Vida Blue and to replace the late Allen Woody in Gov’t Mule.

Burbridge has dropped all of his side projects recently, preferring to focus on the Allman Bros. and Oteil and the Peacemakers. A reduced Allmans Bros. schedule in 2006 will leave him with plenty of time on his hands, which he intends to fill with as many Peacemakers gigs as possible. .

Although Burbridge’s resume must dominate any story about the Peacemakers, each of the members of the band brings important elements to the whole. Paul Henson is known as the lead singer of The Aquarium Rescue Unit from Col. Bruce Hampton’s departure in 1993 until the band’s demise in 1997. He also sang on ARU’s third and fourth albums. Henson’s soulful vocals have been favorably compared to Lenny Williams (Tower of Power) and David Clayton-Thomas (Blood, Sweat and Tears). Drummer Chris Fryar played with the blues-rock touring group Gravy. He has also done session/side work with acts as diverse as Robert Moore and the Wildcats, Charles Neville and Victor Wooten. Keyboardist Matt Slocum was classically trained, attending the New England Conservatory of Music. As the newest member of the band, he adds precise musicianship to the mix. Guitarist Mark Kimbrell is also a veteran of the session scene, and brings astounding guitar virtuosity to the album.

With Believer, Oteil and the Peacemakers finally captured the live-in-the-studio sound, which eluded them on previous releases. “I wanted to make a live album….this was as close as we could get to the live stage sound in the studio, says Burbridge. “I am also really proud of the fact that I could invest a lot of spirituality in the lyrics while maintaining jazzy grooves people could latch on to. It’s my mission to show you how funky God can be.”