Sep 28, 2021
When drummer/composer Jared Schonig says he wants to go big, he’s not kidding. The music on Schonig’s debut recordings as a leader on Anzic Records, Two Takes Vol. 1: Quintet & Vol. 2: Big Band are meticulously crafted, played with the freedom, abandon, joy and excellence that only top New York City players seem to truly capture simultaneously. With these recordings, Schonig now joins the growing fellowship of drummers fronting their own bands, from Brian Blade to Johnathan Blake to Tyshawn Sorey, as more and more drummers write and lead the group from behind the kit.
As Jared explains in our conversation, he wanted to expand his musical horizons, having made the Wee Trio his primary creative vehicle for a number of years. Two Takes Vol. 1: Quintet, features eight Schonig compositions, interspersed with three “Drum Interludes.” The Quintet features a stellar cast: Marquis Hill on trumpet, Godwin Louis on alto saxophone, Luis Perdomo on piano and Matt Clohesy on bass – a family of players who display a wonderful simpatico throughout the album.
Two Takes Vol. 2: Big Band is an audacious creative endeavor. Schonig enlists eight of the most acclaimed big band arrangers/composers working today (whom Schonig has musical relationships and friendships with) – Alan Ferber, Jim McNeely, Mike Holober, Miho Hazama, Darcy James Argue, John Daversa, Laurence Hobgood and Brian Krock – to exercise free reign with his Vol. 1 compositions. The two all-star big bands performing the pieces are comprised of a “who’s who” of jazz artists on the scene, including among others, pianists Dave Cook and Adam Birnbaum, guitarist Nir Felder, saxophonists Donny McCaslin, Troy Roberts, Dave Pietro and Jon Gordon, trumpeters Tony Kadleck and Jonathan Powell, and trombonists Marshall Gilkes and Mike Davis. This gives the listener the chance to experience how different musicians deal with the same fundamental compositions but make the pieces their own.
Jared has a lot on his plate right now, as the new albums drop he currently holds the drum chair, and is co-orchestrator, for the Broadway hit, “Moulin Rouge,” which should have re-opened by the time this podcast is released. We talk about all these musical projects and more in Podcast 849, which features both the quintet and Big Band versions of his tune “Sound Evidence” plus Jared backing the singing group Duchess on “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” from their Live at the Jazz Standard album.