Crescent Super Band taps into Kickstarter for benefit album
A few months ago, the 2015 Downbeat Jazz Educator Award-winning Caleb Chapman and his Crescent Super Band were invited to perform a tour in Cuba.
The band, which is comprised of 26 high school students, including three Park City High School graduates — trumpeter Tyler Webb, bassist Peter Hanaman and pianist Max Holm — and an incoming PCHS senior, trumpeter Luca Rodini, traveled with Dave Matthews Band saxophonist Jeff Coffin and also performed workshops at Cuba’s National School of the Arts in Havana.
"They bring in the finest high-school student musicians from all over the country to study there," Chapman said during an interview with The Park Record. "Let me tell you, they were unbelievable. They were similar to the talent that we have with the kids in the Crescent Super Band and as you might imagine, even with the language barrier, the kids hit it off right away."
To document their visit, the Super Band was able to schedule some recording sessions in the famed Abdala Studios, where many legendary Cuban artists have recorded their music, according to Chapman.
"It was an honor for us to record with some fantastic guest artists including trumpeter Robertico Garcia from the Buena Vista Social Club [and] drummer ‘El Peje’ Juan Carlos Rojas who plays with Chucho Valdes," he said.
That’s when Coffin suggested he and the Crescent Super Band record an album and use the proceeds from the sales to help the young musicians in Cuba get ahold of some new musical equipment.
"I thought that was a fantastic idea," Chapman said. "So, what started as a ‘Hey, let’s go hang out in Cuba’ turned out to be a full-length album project that will raise funds for these awesome musicians."
Three weeks ago, the Crescent Super Band started a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign for the Jeff Coffin and Caleb Chapman’s Crescent Super Band: Cuba Benefit Album project to raise money to complete the album, which is titled "Inside of the Outside."
The album will feature nine tracks, and, in addition to the Cuban guest artists, will include Chapman’s "dream list" of additional players including Branford Marsalis, Victor Wooten, Randy Brecker and Rashawn Ross.
"We were originally hoping to raise $10,000 that would get us started with the recording process," Chapman said. "The album’s entire budget is $20,000, so we figured if we could get half of that covered, then more of the proceeds would go towards the musicians in Cuba."
In 30 hours, donors pledged the first $10,000.
"A few days later, we passed $20,000 and stand currently around $23,000 in pledges," Chapman said. "So, we hope, now, to reach our last-stretch goal of $30,000 by July 16. If we do, we’ll be able to send a full professional Yamaha drum set to the Performing Arts High School. We would love to do that and would like to see if we can raise that additional $7,000."
Coffin and the Super Band recorded the basic tracks in Cuba and then finished up the remaining tracks in Utah.
Chapman is excited about the music on the album.
"As a jazz musician and saxophonist myself, I’ve been influenced by Jeff’s playing for many years," he said. "He is the poster child of modern-jazz saxophone, but where I think he really stands out and hasn’t gotten the recognition he deserves is as a songwriter.
"Many jazz songwriters will draw up a mediocre song just to get to the improvisation, whereas the songs that Jeff writes, improv or no, stand up as fantastic, hook-laden works," Chapman said. "Every song on the album is by Jeff and have been arranged especially for the Crescent Super Band to back him up. It’s an exciting musical endeavor to be involved in."
Chapman said projects such as this album gives him a chance to give something back to the music community.
"I look back at my career and know I wouldn’t have been able to move ahead without the help of an army of people including parents, fellow musicians, people in the music industry, other educators and the media," he said. "I feel like I’ve been so very blessed to be able to work with these kids every day. I have a debt to the music community for allowing me to be able to bring about so many dreams to reality for these kids. So, if there is any chance that I have to give to somewhere else, I welcome the opportunity, even though I don’t think I can ever repay that debt."
To donate to the Jeff Coffin and Caleb Chapman’s Crescent Super Band: Cuba Benefit Album project, visit http://kck.st/1Ij7XDx . Deadline is Thursday, July 16.
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