The Jazz Guys
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The Jazz Guys

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


""Off The Clef" by Casey Rea"

It’s pretty audacious to name your band after a genre you don’t actually belong to. But Burlington’s irreverent rockers the Jazz Guys have never played by the rules. At last year’s Discover Jazz Fest, they were banished from the Church Street Marketplace following a particularly bratty performance. They’ve since become scene darlings, thrilling audiences with playfully infectious music that kicks ass and splits sides. They celebrate the release of their debut disc, A Blessing in Disguise, at Club Metronome this week.
The Jazz Guys’ musical riffs are as potent as their comedic ones. A powerful chemistry exists between 24-year-old bassist/vocalist Herb van der Poll, guitarists/vocalists Max Schartz and Maarten Van der Poll, also 24, and drummer Frank Zamiello, 31. Their explosive sound recalls classic rockers such as the Yardbirds, The Kinks and The Who, but with a punky, satirical edge.
The genesis of the group dates back to 1998, when Grafton, Massachusetts, high school pals Herb van der Poll and Schwartz were given an assignment for a music history class. “It’s a fascinating story, actually,” Van der Poll says. “Our teacher showed us a painting of old jazz musicians and told us to come up with a tale about what that scene was like. So we wrote a musical about a band that was trying to escape a crazy ex-girlfriend.”
The course was completed, but the tunes kept coming. When Van der Poll’s twin brother Maarten came aboard, a more literal version of the Jazz Guys was born.
A couple of years later, members headed off to college. Maarten van der Poll and Schwartz enrolled at Johnson State, where the latter — ironically enough — studied jazz guitar. Herb van der Poll attended the University of Massachusetts, tinkering with tunes in his bedroom. He also participated in an improvisational comedy troupe, honing skills that continue to come in handy. When he transferred to Plainfield’s Goddard College, in 2001, Vermont became Jazz Guys headquarters.
The band went through a few different drummers, settling on Zamiello in 2003. His powerfully articulate style went a long way towards tightening up the group’s spasmodic sound. “That was the true birth of the Jazz Guys,” says Schwartz. Herb van der Poll remembers his first encounter with Zamiello. “Frank was this arrogant, off-putting motherfucker,” he jokingly says. “But we heard he was an amazing drummer.”
Seven Days recently sat down with the band for a fast-paced four-way. Conversation, that is.


SEVEN DAYS: You’ve managed to win over a lot of local rock fans. What are you trying to communicate to them, musically speaking?
FRANK ZAMIELLO: It’s not obvious?

SD: Well, it might be to me, but what about others?
HERB VAN DER POLL: We’re not trying to communicate anything. We’re trying to recapture the sensation of music that excites and inspires us. We hope that on some level, people will feel that when we play.

SD: I have to admit, when I first heard you guys in 2003, I felt as though I was being put on. But I was blown away at a Red Square gig the following year. How did you improve so quickly?
MAX SCHWARTZ: Well, there was some extensive practicing.

HVP: To some people we come off as though we don’t take anything seriously, and the music is a joke. But it’s never actually been that way.

SD: Your early performances frequently included the reading of fan mail. Who is the typical Jazz Guys enthusiast?
FZ: Look in the mirror, my friend.

HVP: Our appeal is pretty broad. There are people that are into us who are obsessed with music, and know all the sub-sub-genres. But there are also people who don’t go to a lot of rock shows that seem to really like us.

FZ: Because we offer them free beer.

SD: You’ve scaled the heights of Burlington rock stardom. Is it lonely at the top?
HVP: When you’re as brilliant as we are, it can be very isolating.

MS: Regular people seem like cattle.

MAARTEN VAN DER POLL: Thank God we have each other.

SD: Your songs are typically straight-up rockers. Will we be hearing a Jazz Guys power ballad anytime soon?
MVP: We’re hoping to have one together for our next performance.

FZ: Every great arena rock band needs a ballad.

MVP: Unfortunately, none of us have [Journey front man] Steve Perry’s voice.

HVP: We definitely don’t want to fall in to the trap of writing the same song over and over. So we came up with a softer song, an anthem to unrequited love. But it’s still got some dizzying heights.

SD: So it’s your “Stairway to Heaven”?
HVP: Well, it’s more like a “Speed Bump to Limbo.”

SD: Your new disc is about to be released. What happens after that?
FZ: We’re gonna sell it!
HVP: Actually, the goal is to let as many people have access to the music as possible. I mean, nobody makes money selling music anymore.

FZ: Well, at least not the bands.

MS: So why should we?

HVP: The Arctic Monkeys had the most downloaded album in history a week before the actual disc came out. But peopl - Seven Days (sevendaysvt.com)


Discography

"A Blessing in Disguise" - EP
"Zygor and the Eye of Death" - Single
"A-9 Sessions" - LP
"Jazz Me This Way" - EP

Are songs are streamed on our Website (http://www.thejazzguys.com) and various blogs.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

The Jazz Guys were originally conceived as characters in a musical written by founding members Max Schwartz (guitar, vocals) and Herb van der Poll (bass, vocals) in 1999. Herb's twin brother, Maarten van der Poll (guitar, vocals), joined the group that following summer. Frank Zamiello (drums, vocals) was the last member to be instated, securing this foursome as one of the greatest rock acts in the northeast.

A typical Jazz Guys’ show starts on a high note and maintains that energy throughout the performance. Max Schwartz and Maarten van der Poll’s dueling guitars are an often disorienting blend of power chords, jazz chords, counter melodies and precision solos, played with unbridled, soulful passion. The two are anchored by the band’s rhythm section, featuring Herb van der Poll’s playful yet tasteful old-school bass stylings and Frank Zamiello’s bombastic you-have-to-hear-this-guy-to-believe-him drumming. From start to finish, The Jazz Guys dance as hard as they’d hope any audience member would. The band uses improvised and scripted material as well as loose audience participation to engage the audience and draw their focus. Their comedy is playful and silly, but points to a deep intelligence and humanism. After show praise is usually divided equally amongst the comedy and the music.

Above all, the Jazz Guys pride themselves in their ability to entertain every audience they’ve played for. “Put us in front of a group of sixty-year-old ultraconservatives, and we’ll have them smiling in ten minutes,” jokes Herb. Supported by a growing fan base and dedicated street team, the Jazz Guys consistently pack regional clubs, putting them in high demand by venues who are looking for a full house.