Tin Pan
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Tin Pan

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Acoustic

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Music

Press


""The band is fantastic.""

The band is fantastic. Fantastic sax and trumpet players. - The Huffington Post


"Elizabeth Holmes"

"Really worth checking out." - The Wall Street Journal


"Rupert Murdoch"

"You guys are terrific." - In Person- Central Park 5/10/09


""Soul Train""

It’s hard to hold a crowd on the platform. We’re a captive audience, but only until the train arrives. The mezzanine floor at 14th Street is a better venue because we don’t see the train we’re about to miss, and we might linger to listen.

Late one afternoon, there are five guys there, in their early 40s: the Tin Pan Blues Band. They’re playing lively, funky jazz on banjo, clarinet, trumpet, saxophone, bass and a silver guitar. The trumpet player sits on a chair in the middle. He has a roundish face, a short, nondescript beard and glasses. They all look like this: friendly, a bit dorky. The clarinetist wears an ochre sweater with red diamonds across the chest.

The trumpeter lowers his horn and begins to sing “St. Louis Woman.” He has a strong, bluesy voice, not beautiful, but full of heart. We all feel it. The bass thumps. The crowd thickens. The singer cries, “I wish I could shimmy like my sister Kate.” We all wish we could, too.

In an open space, two couples are dancing. A girl with long blond hair, a red sash around her hips, bell-bottom jeans. Her partner is a young guy, with a brown blazer and a soft cap. The other girl, with long hair and bangs, wears a black dress and neon pink tights. Her partner’s in a black blazer and a black hat with a red feather. They’re dipping and twirling, spinning and sliding. We’re rapt. There are about 40 of us. It’s nearly 5 o’clock, and we need to get home. We can’t move.

The singer belts out “Bill Bailey.” The man beside me says, “No mike, right? He must be exhausted!” He’s right, there is no mike. It’s just us and them. A young mother holds her crying daughter in her arms, swaying to the music. Her daughter turns quiet. The singer picks up his horn and puts in a mute. The dancers switch partners. The woman beside me says, in a thick Jamaican accent: “I love this music! I love the dancing! I love it!”

People coming up the stairs find themselves suddenly center stage, in the middle of a concert. Hurrying past, they turn to look. Some of them quickly throw bills into the open case. The singer lowers his trumpet and leans back against the wall, belting out another song, eyes shut, heart open.

It’s long after 5 when I finally tear myself away. They’re still singing. I go downstairs, still listening, and get on the wrong train. By the time I realize it, I’m on the wrong side of town. I get off the subway and go up to stand in the dark, waiting for the crosstown bus. - New York Times


Discography

Early Jazz and Americana (2007) - Over 9000 copies sold!
Alice McNulty (2008) - Over 3000 copies sold!
Hound's Tooth (2009) - Over 600 copies sold!

Photos

Bio

Tin Pan connotes a world from the past – the most dominant and enlightened strains of American music of the early part of the 20th century – jazz, blues and American popular song. But it would be a mistake to say that Tin Pan is fixed in that past. Rather, it is music created to be enjoyed profoundly and joyously in the present. The band has created a rabid following by playing music that resonates powerfully because its intention is pure – to make people dance, smile and conjure with the spirit of music itself. On their new album, Hound’s Tooth, the band has perfected their sonic vision – effortless, wondrous and festive, feeling much like, as the band describes themselves, Ray Charles and Tom Waits at a Bourbon Street Parade.

Comprised of Jesse Selengut on trumpet, lead vocals and compositions, Clifton Hyde on guitar and hollerin’, Stefan Zeniuk on reeds and boy soprano vocals, and Peter “Baby Hands” Maness on bass and some singin’, Tin Pan evokes everything from Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong to Irving Berlin and Hoagy Carmichael. Founded in 2006 by Selengut, a long time New York based musician, and the curator of the Williamsburg Jazz Festival, the band sprung from what he calls, “a need for this kind of music.” He elaborates, “As soon as I started playing this music, it just felt so easy and natural. It’s simplicity demands that you be totally committed to it – there’s no hiding behind theory or pose.”

Finding players to fit his vision was challenging, but when Selengut met Mississippi native Clifton Hyde, who has played with Lou Reed, Debbie Harry, Blue Man Group and others, he knew he found the right man. “I auditioned about 25 different guitarists,” Jesse recalls, “and right away I knew Clifton was perfect. He’s experienced with blues and jazz but isn’t constrained by excessive training. And he has an intuitive understanding of what dancers need.” Stefan Zeniuk entered the picture through Clifton, bringing in a touch of the avant-garde to the proceedings. “I’m not even sure Stefan is that interested in jazz. He’s just got incredible energy – (saxophonist) Tim Berne was his babysitter. I think that affected him for life,” says Selengut with a laugh. Bassist Pete “Baby Hands” Maness was chosen because we discovered that he could slap the bass, spin the bass, and get every girl’s phone number all in the same tune.

Describing themselves as a “street band,” they often play in Central Park and in the New York City transit system. It’s the embodiment of the band’s belief that their music should be accessible – literally and figuratively. With two previous CD releases, Early Jazz and Americana and Alice McNulty, they sold a total of 6000 CD’s in 2008, a phenomenal total for an completely unsigned band, and earned rave notices in the New York Times and Huffington Post, among others.

And the singularity of their sound, coupled with the sheer pleasure of it, has earned the band a multitude of exposure, with some seemingly strange bedfellows. “We played a campaign event for (New York City) Mayor Bloomberg, we’ve played the Guggenheim…and we’ve played supporting for MC Hammer. It’s sort of surreal,” notes Jesse. Playing around 180 shows per year, mainly in New York, the band lives out their commitment to enliven through sharing this music.

On Hound’s Tooth, the band has honed and distilled their music to its most profound essence. Produced by Clifton and Jesse, the recording process is simple: set up the microphones and play. From the opening notes of “If The Sea Was Whiskey,” what you’re hearing are master craftsman recreating Americana anew. Clifton’s guitar meshes perfectly with the stand-up bass, and the horns are by turn mournful and celebratory, triumphant and heartbreaking – the sound of a newly found romance in a late night speakeasy, filled with foreboding passion. Jesse’s vocals, fervent and impassioned, are uniquely his own – he has found a space that encompasses everything from Bessie Smith to Tom Waits.

The band is expanding their reach – they are beginning to tour nationally and have found a place in the enormous swing dancing community. Best Buy has taken Hound’s Tooth into their stores for national distribution. And they’ll be playing the influential venue Joe’s Pub in June – another huge sign that this band has arrived. “We may have been together for three years already,” declares Jesse, “but I feel like it’s all just starting now. The band is playing beautifully. I’ve become more confident as a front man. We’re really starting to grab people and have them in the palm of our hand.” In the coming months, it seems assured that the legend of Tin Pan will only grow, as word of their excellence travels, but even more importantly, from the love with which they play.