Structured Freedom – The JPQ Through the Eyes of Cynthia Mullis

by Jason on November 8, 2010 · 2 comments

in Nick Drake Project, Thoughts

Cynthia Mullis - photo by Darrah Parker

I’m in the process of shooting a video for the Jason Parker Quartet’s upcoming Kickstarter campaign to help fund our Nick Drake Project CD. The campaign kicks off on Nov. 15th and I’ve been driving around Seattle to film video of each member of the band to introduce them to our potential backers. It’s been a blast and a great opportunity to spend time with each person talking about their experience playing in the JPQ. I’ve gained some valuable insight into how my compatriots feel about the group and had really fascinating discussions with each of them.

Cynthia Mullis

Today I filmed saxophonist Cynthia Mullis in her studio. Cynthia joined the band after we had already been playing together for a couple years (which explains why I still call a band that now has 5-6 people in it a quartet!), and that’s not always easy, for the band or for the new kid on the block. Josh, Evan, D’Vonne and I had developed a real tight rapport both on stage and off after playing hundreds of shows together and recording two albums. I’ll admit that when I first asked Cynthia to sit in with us on a gig I figured it’d be a one-off chance to play with a musician I respected and bring something new to a show. But from the very first song it was clear that much more was going on. Cynthia’s playing immediately meshed with the group in way that normally takes months if not years of rehearsal and performance to get to. After the show I talked with the boys about it and we all agreed that Cynthia should play with us again.

Now it’s more than a year later and Cynthia has joined us on most of our gigs since. She also played on 3 tunes on our last CD, “No More, No Less”. She has become an integral part of the group and I couldn’t be happier to share the stage with such a fine musician and wonderful person.

Structured Freedom

During the filming today I asked Cynthia to give me her impressions of playing with the JPQ, and her answer perfectly crystallized how I feel about the band – I couldn’t have said it better myself! Here’s the clip from the interview:

The JPQ has a new mission statement! “Being able to move with whatever is happening while still taking care of business as far as structure and melody, and trusting that if you go out on a limb, the rest of the band will follow, and somehow we’ll all end up in the same place and make something interesting happen musically”. Thanks to Cynthia for being able to articulate what it is that I love so much about the band.

Here’s a tune from our last record that I think really captures this spirit, especially during Cynthia’s solo which starts 5 minutes in. Listen how she and the rhythm section do exactly what she was talking about:

Cynthia is playing live this Thursday with a quartet she is co-leading with the amazing NYC guitarist Sheryl Bailey. The show is at Tula’s in Seattle and should be fantastic. See you there!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe Walker
Twitter: JoeWalkerGuitar
November 8, 2010 at 11:17 am

Perfect approach for that blend of tunes too. I love the criss-crossing of the two melodies at the end. You should see what Wayne thinks. It got me listening to the whole album again.

Twitter: 1WorkinMusician
November 8, 2010 at 11:45 am

Thanks Joe! I would LOVE to get this track to Wayne!

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