VI Buzz Band: Without Until
VI Buzz Band: Without Until
by Paul Roberts
Who: Guitar phenom Scott Quinn and drummer extraordinaire Lee Venters and a few of their massively talented friends.
Where: Wilmington, NC
The Sound: Next level, mind blowing and soul moving jazz fusion.
The Skinny: Wilmington has never been known for its fusion scene but all of that changed with Without Until. From the sound of their new record, they could very well be the father’s of a new age of fusion in the south!

VI: Tell me about how the new record came about?
This record was 3 years in the making. It started out with me writing several tunes. I had the idea that maybe we could record them with just drums, bass and guitar, then I would come back in, over dub some lead parts the record would be done. How naive was that? 3 years later it blossomed in this “Sergeant Pepper” project! Many of the tunes like Mistor Hiddy for instance were known by no one but me the day we walked into record it! Back then, it was just Lee, bassist John White (who later went on to work with Tommy Brothers in Machine Gun) and myself. As the years went by, I took the basic recordings and over dubbed strings, guitars, heck even Lee re-recorded the drums to Mistor Hiddy! We had a tremendous help and influence from the Wilmington music community! I remember recording bassist Gary Craddock on upright acoustic bass at my home in my studio and was amazed how passionate and patient he was recording 3 acoustic upright tracks on Morning Dance! All the time I was thinking to myself how incredible it was for me to be working with a talent like him! Other amazing players like William Paco Strickland! Getting him to play on Morning Dance was such a treat! I remember the first time I met him, I had stopped by his home to drop off some roughs of the tune for his consideration, and we got along so great, that he ended up giving me this great electric guitar as a gift! Then working with Wilmington’s own local blues Legend Charlie Lucas was amazing. Getting him to do the vocals on Do What? was Lee’s idea.

The original idea for the tune was that I would just mumble stuff, but that didn’t work, so I thought maybe we could maybe get Col. Bruce Hampton from Lee’s old band, the Aquarium Rescue Unit, but our “shoestring” budget didn’t allow for that. So, Lee suggested Charlie. I remember hearing his voice for the first time and it was like “yeah baby, this is gonna fit perfectly.” So I wrote these lyrics into a story of a guy playing the blues his entire life, and ending up here in Wilmington, based on a fictional character that Charlie perfectly became. Leroy Harper Jr. from the James Brown band offered to lay down some horns. He had a machine similar to the one we were using, so I gave him the data discs and he got with sax man Jason Jackson and they came up with these great horn parts based around this guitar section I wrote into the tune originally. Moments, the albums’ opener, was the first tune we recorded I think. It didn’t even have a bass part. It was just Lee on drums, and me playing guitar in like 38 degree weather in an unfinished at the time studio! I played the bass part later, and finally had Gary do it. Voices was the first tune we used Taylor Lee on bass. He was 16 at the time! We recorded that one live first straight thru, with just Lee and I on vocals. Then we went back, played the vocals in the head sets, and recorded the drums, bass and guitar. It was a fun session! I later got together with keyboardist Steve Dyer who did some amazing soling on the tune. Ethan’s Concerto, written for my grandson, was an epic piece for me, as I got to work with Kevin Kolb, Steve Dyer and sax player Seth Trachy! Kevin was so gracious! There is a picture on the CD of that session where I was singing out melodies to Kevin during overdubs while he played em on the keyboard! It was very magical! This tune was written with a full on symphony in mine. I would love to record this piece with the London Philharmonic or any orchestra for that matter at a future time!

Now that the record is completed, all 69 plus minutes if it, it is hard to believe this all came to fruition in the manner it did. Like getting R.C. ‘Gil’ Warren to do the album cover art! Wow, what a great job he did! I remember explaining what I wanted to convey in the CD cover art and he instantly got it! Without Until is really a backwards approach to saying “Forever.” I heard of a book called “Powers of Ten” from the late guitar demi-god, Shawn Lane, when I was managing him back in the late 80’s early 90’s. In fact I titled Shawn’s first solo release that very title. (Shawn was bad when it came to naming his tunes, I probably named about 2-3 tunes on that album for him as well as many on his follow up Tri-tone Album). Warner Brothers didn’t get it though. They thought Shawn meant the “powers of his ten fingers.” How lame was that? Anyway, basically the “Powers of Ten” concept is that if you take a microscope and look at something and keep zooming it in 10x’s at a time, it never stops getting smaller. Same is true with a telescope looking up. Zooming in 10x’s over and over, results in the same, “forever.” The white light border and center is sort of my twist on it all coming round again to the same spot. The results of Gil’s art are fantastic! The artistic musical community of Wilmington is really incredible!

VI: What is your favorite song on it?
Favorite song? I wrote them all, save Voices, which was originally penned by Frame Drummer extraordinaire Glen Velez. I merely re-arranged it. But favorite song? That’s like asking me which of my kids are my favorite! No really, each of these tunes captures influences over the years that I have come to love and appreciate. I mean how do you go from Mistor Hiddy to Blue Tango? Or from Morning Dance to Do What? Or Moments to Ethan? Each tune is a trip down a musical journey from its own door. I even ran one tune into the other on just about every song to connect the dots so the listener could say, Okay, I see where this is leading... The problem with doing a record like this is that you can’t really market it to any one particular genre. So we use the all encompassing term “Jazz Fusion.” Yeah, that’s the ticket. When you can’t pigeon hole it, we call it Jazz Fusion!

VI: What is your opinion of the Wilmington music scene?
It is great! I mean, Lee and I started playing together in 2003 and the musical community really embraced our music! No one in town was or is now doing any Jazz Fusion, save us. We got this sort of cool reputation that spread around town as, “Hey have you heard about those guys playing Mahavishnu Orchestra in that pizza restaurant (Antonio’s) in Leland? We would play the Whiskey and all the musicians in town would all come out to hear us! It really was and IS a blast. Great town, great people, just a great town.

VI: Are you all planning a tour to support the record?
Yeah, we are working on air play with a few stations around town and WNCW. We are looking to do some festivals, and some gigs around the Southeast. We have been talking to a few promoters and booking agents. But we really want to branch out to Greensboro, Atlanta and places like that, as well as festivals and concerts in the region. We have been talking about the possibility of doing some double bills with the Jeff Sipe Trio and others around the region, but we will wait and see how it all pans out. So stay tuned to our website:  www.withoutuntil.com or stop by  www.myspace.com/withoutuntil. Dates are posted as we get em!

VI: Who are some local musicians that our readers should check out?
Bassist Taylor Lee. The kid is now 18 and man, what a treat it is for me to play with him every Thursday night at the Rusty Nail! However, he is leaving for Berkeley in August so we are going to be looking for a new bassist. Know anyone?

VI: What has been your favorite gig to play within the last year and why?
Oh, definitely the Rusty Nail gig last month when we did a double bill with the Jeff Sipe Trio! First off, I have been dying to play with Jeff since I first met him back in ‘94-’95 when he was playing with Shawn Lane and Jonas Hellborg. We did a NAMM Show together where they played a concert I put on with a company I was working with at the time. He was just great. I remember telling him I wanted to get together and play sometime, and he was like “Cool! When do you want to get together?” Also as a kid, I always wanted to be in a band with two drummers, and my dream came true that night during the encore, when all 5 of us played together. Lee, Jeff, Mike, Vince and me. It was awesome!

VI: Who are your three biggest musical inspirations?
For me it is John McLaughlin, first and foremost. John /’is’/ music, and every chapter of his musical life is a portal to another musical dimension. Then there is Shawn Lane who taught me how I can play all sorts of wild stuff and more importantly, how I could get away with it! And finally there is the great Billy Cobham who taught me the importance of rhythm. But I would have to add Selvaganesh, as his Indian rhythm is fresh and inspiring and really led me in directions I only began to look in with the original Shakti. (Turns out Selvaganesh is the son of “Vikku” Vinayakram who played the “ghatam” the clay pot, with the original Shakti band with John McLaughlin.) What Selvaganesh and Jonas Hellborg have accomplished is truly great, not to mention his work with McLaughlin’s Remember Shakti.

VI: When can we hear you next?
We play every other Thursday at the Rusty Nail in Wilmington during June, so that is the 5th and 12th. On the 6th of June, we will be in the basement of the Soap Box in Wilmington at a new little club called the French Quarter. On the 27th of June, I’ll be doing my solo one man band gig at the new Montage Art Galley in the WHQR building downtown Wilmington. You can come and check out the jam, man!