The Oscillators
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The Oscillators

Band Jazz Funk


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The Oscillators features Ostle on drums and electronics, bassist Glen Oliff, as well as Three Stars alums Matt Rippetoe and the ubiquitous John Lee on saxophone and guitar, respectively. The recently profiled Rob Coltun, musician and owner of the Bossa Bistro & Lounge, acted as executive producer of Beat Tectonics while Doug Derryberry, who has worked with everyone from O.A.R. to Bruce Hornsby, engineered the recording. The album is a strong example of contemporary jazz fusion. The compositions incorporate the odd-meters and angular melodies characteristic of the genre, but the ensemble never sacrifices a strong groove for instrumental pyrotechnics.
How did The Oscillators first come together? What was your vision for the band?

We came together because I had to put a band together for my graduate recital at UMD. I had played a gig with Glen Oliff and John Lee and loved the way the three of us played as a unit. We had an uncannily similar approach toward playing music. I wanted to add a tenor sax into the group and Glen then suggested Matt Rippetoe. After the four of us played through my material I knew this was the sound I was after. The four of us have a deep appreciation for jazz, funk, rock, electronica, and Latin music etc., which is crucial to the band’s sound and vision.

It's not often that a drummer acts as a bandleader. Are there any particular challenges you face in that role?

As a drummer I look at composition in a completely different way. I usually begin the writing process by hearing a rhythm or a bass line in my head and using that as a canvas, as opposed to beginning with a melody or a chord progression. Of course, the guys in The Oscillators really bring the music to life and give the parts their own unique signature.

What were your goals as far as the recording was concerned?

I wanted to capture the band’s live sound and energy on the album. We recorded the entire album in two days and did some minimal overdubs after the fact. We collaborated with some great people during the process which, I believe, resulted in a nice clean sounding recording.

How did you assemble the material for the album? What was your compositional approach?

The material on the album is made up of seven of my strongest tunes along with a great tune from John. I feel more like the principal composer for this group rather than the drummer. I often don’t know what the drum part is going to be until we’ve had a chance to “shed” the tunes.

Where else do you play around town?

We have played at The Takoma Park Jazz Festival, Tryst, Wonderland Ballroom, Bossa, Domku, The Space, The Quarry House, and several private functions. We’ve been focusing on finishing the album for the past 10 months and haven’t been playing too many gigs, but now that it’s finished we’ll be booking more.

What are your short and long term goals as far as your CD and performing?

Our intention, now that our CD is done, is to play more often in the D.C. metro area with more club and festival dates. Additionally, we feel like our intended listening audience is broader than the jazz audience exclusively. It is our goal to reach the audience that normally wouldn’t buy an instrumental album, or go see an instrumental group.

What are your thoughts on the District's jazz scene? Who are the musicians you most enjoy, both in terms of listening and performance?

D.C. has a great music and jazz scene. There are talented players all over town. The problem is that there isn’t a large audience for creative music. Perhaps they’re out there, but we’ll just have to figure out how to reach them because we feel like we’ve got a sound that a lot of people would like and could relate to.
- DCist

The Oscillators won the $600 gig at this summer’s Takoma Park Jazz Festival, after an innovative performance of electronic and ‘‘wa-wa” sounds at the annual contest held at Takoma Station in Washington, D.C.
‘‘A lot of the grooves and beats that we use are from an electronic point of view, and a lot of the sounds themselves are, but we improvise over those sounds with jazz improv techniques,” said drummer Charles Ostle, founder of The Oscillators. ‘‘It’s not classic jazz. We don’t use any swing beats. ... We could, but it’s not what we do.”
The four-man band — Ostle, Matt Rippetoe on tenor saxophone, John Lee on guitar and Glen Oliff on bass — came together last spring at Ostle’s graduate recital from the University of Maryland. The name comes from Ostle’s name, a ‘‘nice coincidence,” he said, and the band’s use of oscillators in their music. The effects members produce make wave, or ‘‘wa-wa” sounds, Ostle said.
One of the band’s strongest suits was its creativity, said Paul Long, Takoma Park JazzFest president.
‘‘They played virtually all their own music. It was a very strong, connected group,” he said.
The other two bands competing were last year’s second-place winner, the Minor Thoughts Quartet, and the Sweet Thunder Jazz Trio. Judges had a hard time deciding on second and third, so the two will share the second spot prize with $125 apiece.
‘‘All three bands were rather different, which from a producer’s point of view was really nice,” said Dave Lorentz, producer of the Takoma Park JazzFest. ‘‘This was one our best attended [Jazz Band] Brawls ... standing room only.”
The Takoma Park JazzFest will be held 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 9 at Jequie Park. The theme this year is ‘‘Body Music — Soloists Without Instruments.”

- The Gazette

"This is one of the most exciting bands to play here at the Takoma Park Jazz Festival in years."

-Rusty Hassan (WPFW) - Takoma Park Jazz Festival


Beat Tectonics (2008) Bossa Beats Records



The Oscillators is a unique and progressive group that seeks to break boundaries and forge a new sound in today’s ever-fragmented world of modern jazz. The group’s repertoire is almost exclusively original, it’s sound anchored by syncopated bass and drum rhythms that provide a strong canvas on which a guitar and tenor sax paint harmonies and colors, enhanced with live electronics. The collective sound is a tapestry of interwoven rhythms and textures that provide the listener an engaging and innovative sound. The music is a dichotomy of complexity and simplicity, and is an amalgamation of the group’s influences and experiences.

The Oscillators- Charles Ostle (drums), Glen Oliff (bass), Matt Rippetoe (saxophone), and John Lee (guitar) all grew up and currently live in the greater Washington D.C. area. The group first came together in 2006 and have been actively developing their unique sound ever since. The group’s first CD was released in 2008 and is entitled Beat Tectonics, which alludes to the dynamic rhythmic shifts that occur within the music.