Tell us about the new record.
D.Y. - "The new record, my debut album, is the first in a series of albums I hope to release in an annual sequence. For the first album I wanted to present sort of a resume if you will of the diversity of this group. I wanted to showcase how we all have unique distinctive voices on our respective instruments, but still interact and communicate well together as a group. The vehicles I used were nine originals that I felt were all different from one another in very many respects, which would in turn make us play/interact differently on each tune...sort of like a group of actors being given nine different scenarios and being asked to act each of them out for the audience. It was an enjoyable learning experience, the whole process of making this album from start to finish, and I couldn't have asked for a more supportive group of cats. George and Wayne are the two I have known the longest and we had been playing together since back when I lived in Philly. When the three of us get together on or off the band stand it's going to be a great time no questions asked. They have such a strong connection on the band stand I knew from the early inception of the group I wanted to keep that rapport going on between them and find a bassist who would fit in with them and the way we all played together. After searching for sometime, Luques came to mind after having gotten to know him a bit when I moved up to New York and from playing in the Captain Black Big Band together. When we all played for the first time he gave us all a run for our money lol! He brought something different to the table that was interesting and the feel was good with what was already there so I had finally found my bass player. Not only is he a great bass player, but he has a knack for reading my mind on what I want conceptually more than anyone else I've known, so it's nice to have someone like that in the group who knows what you want and what you're thinking and no words need to be spoken. Originally I wanted to keep the group to just quartet, but I found a lot of my writing required two horns so I called Duane up and after the first gig George came up to me and said "Duane needs to play with us all the time. I'm putting my foot down!" I found it funny because before the end of the gig I had it in my mind to open up the group to a quintet after hearing him play anyway, but it definitely is nice when the rest of the band supports the idea adamantly lol. I love Duane's sound because it's a unique and concept is different than anyone else out there in my opinion. All of the cats in the group have their own creative voices on their instruments so it's great to be surrounded by musicians of this caliber because it not only makes you work on your playing from a fundamental standpoint, but also a conceptual standpoint so that I myself have a unique voice to bring to the table that they can be inspired by. It works out well because we keep discovering different ways of interacting. Looking forward to recording the next album this year with the whole group and we'll be adding special guest Nasheet Waits into the mix. It's gonna be a fun project!"
People argue about labels and other arbitrary tags placed on jazz. Where do you stand on this issue?
D.Y. - "I used to be of the opinion that labels were absolutely useless, but after more consideration I've come to the conclusion that they do have a purpose and some good comes out of it. For my own artistic endeavors they hold no sway over me as my main goal is just to create good music. I'm not worried about whether or not it will fit into a particular mold or be accepted by the status quo. From the other side of the fence, from an audience/consumer perspective I can see them having a purpose to a certain extent. If you hear a style of music you like such as flamenco and wish to just check out more of it outside of the artist you've heard it helps to know what the style is labeled as so you can check out music that is similar to that sound. For the purposes of research and organization they serve their purpose. But even then there is the risk of people not wanting to check out more music outside their scope. Let's take the opposite scenario now and say someone hears one artist from a particular genre, didn't like it, and then from now on that listener may not give any other artist from that genre a chance. I realize this all depends on the individual open mindedness of each listener, but nonetheless it is a plausible scenario. So for myself, there seems to be a double edged sword when it comes to labels and how they can do good and bad at the same time. As far as do I care how critics classify my music I must say I'm not too worried about it. I'd rather have critics and non-critics just say my music is really great music. That being said I've resigned myself to the fact that someone is going to categorize it either while I'm alive or post humous. They did it to Duke Ellington and Miles Davis despite their pleas of wanting their music to be beyond category or to call it anything. I by no means am trying to put myself in the same company as Duke and Miles, but I'd like to think on this issue we share a common viewpoint. But if I am to be classified or labeled anything, I'd rather rather CREATE the label, not be put in one."