Church on Monday w/ Elias Haslanger feat. Dr. James Polk (album release)
In a town that routinely neglects America’s world culture contribution, jazz flourishes above the Continental Club every Monday at 8:30pm for six years running. In that slanted and enchanted speakeasy, bandleader Elias Haslanger blows his tenor sax like a Fifties Blue Note mainstay as organist Dr. James Polk conjures music of the spheres and the rhythm section of guitarist Tommy Howard, bassist Daniel Durham, and beat keeper Scott Laningham circles the wagons. None ever play to an empty room.
“I make a point to include the audience,” writes in native Austinite Haslanger. “I’ve been to sooooo many jazz shows where the leader dares the audience to understand the music. So wrong. When I toured with Maynard Ferguson, he showed me what a true bandleader and entertainer is supposed to do: have fun and invite the audience in on the fun.”
Second live document of the popular residency, For Being There captures the inherent post-World War II vibe of the scene without ever courting retro cliches.
“There’s something to the Blue Note vibe – the suits, the cigarettes, the photos, the artwork – that appeals to almost everyone,” affirms Haslanger. “It takes people to a place and time that is so cool. Plus, the music set a very, very high bar people are still trying to reach.”
So, jazz man, place yourself on any bandstand in music history – adding your instrument to the chorus. Who, where, when, why?
“Oh man, tough one. So many great bands, here are a couple: Coltrane’s Impulse quartet is probably my favorite band of all time. The energy, the connection, the spiritual nature of the music. Simply otherworldly. And the Miles Davis Quintet: Incredible communication, writing (mostly Wayne Shorter), improvisational agility. They seem to float in the ether and can instantly go any direction they want – almost telepathic with their communication.”– Raoul Hernandez