The Jack West & Lalo Vibe
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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


October 19, 2006
by John Stoehr


Two Savannah natives come home for gig at Kokopelli's Jazz.

One day in 2004, two musicians met in Austin, Texas. They were each performing at the South By Southwest Festival. They were performing on two different kinds of instruments. They lived at two different ends of the country.

But Lalo had more in common with Jack West than she ever realized.

They both grew up in Savannah.

"It turns out I used to carpool with his sister on my way to school," said Lalo, whose real name is Laura Friedman.

Before that time, Lalo had made a name for herself as one of New York City's top jazz vibraphonists. Her most recent CD, "Half Moon," received accolades from the country's top jazz magazines and a new book of vibraphone compositions is poised for release next month.

Meanwhile, West and his band Curvature were one of the top ensembles in the San Francisco Bay area, winning acclaim for innovative recordings.

West is also known for inventing his own instrument, an eight-string guitar, which he uses to make layers of sound: harmony, melody and percussion all at the same time.

After discovering their shared history, they made another discovery: that the individual musical vocabularies they had developed over the years were complementary.

"We really dug each other's music and were amazed by the similar vibe," Lalo said. "We both play jazz-influenced music that's not standards and accessible."

They decided to join forces and make a recording. Since then, they have been touring together on and off.

"Both of us spent a lot of time on our instruments and our instruments are very strange," Lalo said. "We want to explore all the different sounds of our instruments."

Though complementary, the music is different when they play together.

Lalo, noting her most recent record, said she tends toward a moody, brooding, worldly kind of jazz whose spirit is absent when playing with West.

"If we ever give ourselves a name, it's going to be Bright Orange," Lalo said. "Any time we get together, it's totally sunny.

"In big cities, musicians are often negative, but when Jack and I play, it's like, 'This music is so much fun.' Playing with someone like that is such a joy.

"There must be something about being from Savannah."

Live shows, such as their homecoming gig at Kokopelli's Jazz this weekend, demonstrate the seamlessness of their music in which it's hard to tell which tunes were composed by which musician.

Either way, the tunes are original - mostly.

"We're both crazy Stevie Wonder fans," Lalo said. "We'll throw a couple of his in there, too."

If You Go

What: Lalo with Jack West

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Where: Kokopelli's Jazz, 107 W. Broughton St.

Admission: $5

Information: 231-8369, lalovibe.com, curvature.us - Savannah Now


March 1, 2006
by David Dupont

From the beginning the vibraphonist Lalo headed off in her own directions.
“I was the kid,” she said in a recent telephone interview, “who hit the wrong note and liked it and would play that.”
Learning to play the vibraphone was “just a big game. It was just another toy,” said Lalo. “I was so intrigued because there were so few instructions. That piqued my interest even more.”
Now a New York-based recording and concert artist, Lalo will perform Friday at 8pm at Owens Community College. Now with two solo recordings to her name – the newest, “Half Moon”, was just released in January – she is intent on thrusting vibraphone into a lead role in contemporary jazz. A National Public Radio commentator said her first release “injected some rock vitality into the vibraphone.”
Lalo feels for jazz to progress it must do more than interpret standard tunes. Her compositions bring a range of influences into play. They all reflect her life as a New York musician. One night, she said, she’ll be playing with a rock band, and the next with an orchestra. Her goal is to thrust vibraphone to center stage on the contemporary music scene.
Her partner in the Owens performance will be guitarist Jack West, an equally self-directed player. West, Lalo said, is completely self-taught. “He figured all of this out on his own,” she said. The result is an unorthodox approach to music, and continues to amaze Lalo. She finds herself wondering “where’s that sound coming from.”
With West she feels she’s playing with “at least three other musicians.”

Who: Vibraphonist Lalo with Guitarist Jack West

Where: Mainstage Theatre in the Owens Community College Center for Fine and Performing Arts

When: Friday, 8pm

How Much: $16; $10 for senior citizens and students
- Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune


March 2, 2006
by Steven Cornelius

Lalo makes her living playing the vibraphone, an often-heard but little-known niche instrument at the far reaches of public awareness.
“When people learn to recognize the sound, they realize that the vibraphone is all over the radio. I want to bring that sound into people’s consciousness, to introduce it to a wider range of listeners,” she said last week by phone from California.
Being a female instrumentalist has been challenging and rewarding, she said. “At the Berklee College of Music it was a 9-to-1 ratio of men to women. That sure was interesting. It quickly became clear that I had to show that I was there to practice.
“Once I was out of school people would say to me, ‘Hey, I can shop you.’ They were interested in exploiting image to a degree that I am not interested in. All this has just made me more determined than ever to show that I am here for the music,” she said.
Making music was always about exploration for Lalo.
“As a child I would perform a classical piece on the piano, but if I hit a wrong note I would go off into some little thing of my own. For me on the piano it was always more about creating than gaining agility. That additional focus didn’t happen until I started playing the vibraphone,” she said.
Lalo, 27, performs with guitarist Jack West at 8pm tomorrow at the Owens Community College Center for Fine and Performing Arts. It’s a matching of committed individualists.
“Jack sounds like no one else. He didn’t go through the standard musical background, but instead developed his own thing. He invented his guitar in order to produce the sounds he was hearing in his head.
“We combine our original compositions, about half and half. We don’t really sound like a duo because Jack gets so many colors out of the instrument, including bass and percussion sounds. We are sort of a jazz jam band with world-music influences. It’s high energy and really fun, but at the same time there’s a lot going on,” said Lalo.

- The Toledo Blade


Discography

A duo album is currently in the works. Individual albums receiving national airplay are starred.
*2006: "Half Moon", Lalo
*2003: "Around About Now", Jack West & Curvature
*2003: "Lalo", Lalo
*2001: "Big Ideas", Jack West & Curvature
1999: "As We Know It", Jack West & Curvature
1998: "Big Comet Headed For Earth", Jack West & Curvature

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

New York based vibraphonist Lalo and Bay Area 8-string acoustic guitarist Jack West have several things in common: their jazz-influenced music is fresh, energetic, and fueled by imagination; they break new ground with their inventive approach to unusual instruments; and they both grew up in Savannah, GA. Yet West and Lalo only knew of each other by rumor until they were both selected to showcase at South by Southwest in March 2004.

“I heard Jack play and I couldn’t believe it. His music was so much fun, and his rhythmic and harmonic approach was incredibly similar to what I aim for in my music!” says Lalo. Maybe it’s something in the water in Savannah, GA: The two musicians had arrived at a similar style by taking entirely different paths on opposite sides of the country. They first brought their innovations together for a West Coast tour in March 2005, next performed at the legendary 55 Bar in NYC, and since then have continued to tour throughout the U.S. The overwhelmingly positive response to their music guarantees that fans on both coasts will be seeing more of this duo in the near future.

West has developed a highly personal sound using unusual tunings and a dazzling combination of bluesy slide work, finger-picking, and unorthodox percussive techniques. He has performed his music with a “who’s who” of SF Bay Area jazz musicians, including drummer Scott Amendola (Charlie Hunter, etc), cellist Mark Summer (Turtle Island String Quartet), bassist Jon Evans (Tori Amos), saxophonist George Brooks (Zakir Hussein's Rhythm Experience), violinist Jenny Scheinman, and many others. His recordings have received national recognition for their exceptional quality as independently produced CDs. As We Know It was chosen over thousands of entries as winner of the Acoustic Guitar Magazine Self-Released CD Award for its "superb quality and originality." Most recently, West has been selected as a finalist in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition Jazz category for his piece "This Life May Be Monitored" from his recent release, Big Ideas.

Lalo has created a new world of vibraphone-based music with fresh energy a modern edge. “Lalo has injected some rock vitality into the vibraphone,” proclaimed host Liane Hansen during a feature interview on NPR Weekend Edition Sunday. “Lalo’s music exists as a playground made of sound,” read a Jazz Times magazine feature on the vibraphonist. Her newest CD, Half Moon, was released January 2006 and is currently receiving national airplay. "Half Moon reveals an impressive growth spurt... there is a willingness throughout this disc to think outside the box, yet the leader's compositions are still filled with a strong sense of lyricism and melody...an altogether winning album,” wrote Tad Hendrickson of JazzWeek.

In addition to traveling worldwide as the leader of several bands, Lalo has recorded with legendary jazz pianist Kenny Werner for BMG Japan, performed with Cyro Baptista’s ten-piece percussion ensemble, and regularly plays in several established New York City bands. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Lalo’s recent appearances include the Blue Note, the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, and numerous U.S. colleges and universities.

Learn more about Jack and Lalo at www.aheadbehind.com and www.lalovibe.com.