Monday, July 24, 2017

MCP Trio

January 5, 2017 by  
Filed under lifeStyle

From New York City, the jazz capital of the world, the MCP Trio is ‘a band of musical brothers’ — their music, a hat tip to the time-honoured tradition of the piano trio. Steve Myerson (piano) Billy Carrión Jr (bass) and Jonathon Peretz (drums) probe those established boundaries to perform an impressive range of sui generis music.

ABOUT MCP

mcp-trio Together, they are forging a fresh take on piano trio tradition that combines their individual experiences with an intense collective passion to create an ensemble that’s both current and inventive, yet with the experience of a seasoned, working band.

Band members pictured (L-R) Billy Carrión Jr, Steve Myerson and Jonathon Peretz* are also accomplished musicians in their own right.

They have a unique repertoire that runs the gamut of Jazz, R&B, Soul and also video game music. Their debut album ‘Gamin with the MCP Trio’ is due out shortly.

5 KURIOUS KIWI QUESTIONS

Do you have interesting friends? I do. I’m a kurious kiwi, so in this LifeStyle section I ask them 5 Questions. I ask each of them a common question, when it’s all said and done, what matters? Their responses are sometimes startling yet always thought evoking.

What elements make MCP’s ‘sound’ distinctive?

Two things according to Billy — trust and techniques. The group’s distinctive sound is a reflection of the strong personal bond that’s developed between them all. “Steve and I have a love for video game sound tracks that we dubbed ‘the sound track to our childhood’. Steve attributes his discipline of being able to practice and focus for hours, to long periods of playing video games and not letting anything get in the way of the goal. I still play those games, some new ones too and have a love for older game composers like Koji Kondo, Junichi Masuda and Tommy Tallarico.

That music is embedded in our souls, and when we studied it, we found that a lot of the influences came from the 70’s ECM label artists, and fusion groups; that’s where Jonathon’s love (mine too) come in. Any creative music from the 70’s had an incredible aura about it; it was ‘genre-less’ if you will: Richie Bierich, Keith Jarrett, Miles’ electric groups, Weather Report and Chick Corea.”

In the past two years we’ve been there for each other musically. I think that connect strengthens the overall group trust; and when you’re surrounded by people you trust, musically-speaking, you feel more free to be yourself. Technically, the repertoire we have chosen as cover songs — to play and study, influences the original material we perform” he said.

“What is it that makes the Memphis Jazz tradition so iconically memorable for you?”

steve-meyerSteve

I am heavily influenced by pianists that come out of the lineage of great Memphis jazz pianist Phineas Newborn Jr., including Geoffery Keezer, Donald Brown, James Williams, Harold Mabern, and Mulgrew Miller to name a few.

Each of their music is full of lush harmony, beautiful lines, grooves and swing, and encompasses a complete history of jazz piano. I’m fortunate to have studied with or been mentored by all of them, with the exception of Newborn.

In life, when it’s all said and done, what matters most?

Billy: I certainly couldn’t say I’d be here today without my lady, my step-kid, my folks and cats like Steve and Jonathon who I consider brothers. The past few years have been challenging and I’ll be honest, it’s been a struggle at times. I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for them. And when it’s all said and done, I hope my life might be seen as another stepping-stone along the pathway — of every good musical thing that came before and every good musical thing that will come after it.

Steve: Mine would be family.

Jonathon: My wife is without a doubt the most important person in my life. She keeps me grounded and humble but picks me up and supports me when I’m down. Her love is what inspires me everyday. When it’s all said and done I could live without music but I couldn’t live without her. Also, my family for many of the same reasons as my wife.

Finally, personal growth, whether it be spiritual, emotional, musical or just plain knowledge and understanding. I believe empathy is one of our greatest traits as humans and that if we all displayed more of it, maybe the world would feel a little less cold.

What + what = A Holy Groove?

billy-carrion-jrBilly

Coming from saxophone, I see and feel harmony differently from your typical bassist. In the last two years Jonathon and Steve have really helped me hone in on the necessary strengths that a bass player needs to have to be a real pocket player, both rhythmically and harmonically.

It’s a completely different perspective from being the horn player in a group, but the melding of the two creates quite a distinctive musical intelligence.

What did Latin percussion master Johnny Almendra teach you that influences how you play today?

jonathon-peretz-photo-credit-chris-drukkerJonathon

The great timbalero/percussionist Johnny Almendra was such an amazing teacher and mentor to me. To explain the impact he had, I have to tell you the environment that I learned in. I originally went to him to to learn how to apply Latin rhythms to drum set since I had seen him playing drum kit with Willie Colon’s band.

I gave him a call to ask about studying with him, and he told me sure, just come over to a place called Boys Harbor for the Performing Arts up in East Harlem. The lesson took place in a small room filled with a drum set, timbales, a dozen congas, and other assorted percussion.

There were several other people taking lessons at the same time. Johnny worked with me at the timbales not at the drum set with others on congas. He would bounce around to each of us, showing us what to play and correcting what wasn’t right.

My next lesson I didn’t even get on the drums I sat at the conga with a group of other students and we just learned different traditional rhythms and the hand technique required to play them. Every lesson from that point was on congas.

I learned the basics of Rhumba guaguanco, Yembe, son, bomba, peña, danzón as well as getting a lesson in the history of the instruments and music. It was an invaluable period of study, and Johnny was an enthusiastic teacher whose love of the music and history was infectious.

I have always felt that in music, one hand washes the other, and that no matter what music you’re studying at any given time it will have a profound effect on any other style you play. I believe in the study of the culture and tradition of any music, and that all of these influences should add to your style of playing not restrict you.

“… In the end it’s all music” – Jonathon

RELATED

1. MCP Trio Page: Facebook 2. Website: Billy Carrión Jr 3. Website: Steve Meyerson 4. Website: Jonathon Peretz 5. Interview: Johnny Almendra 6. Website: Harbor Performing Arts Academy

* PHOTO CREDITS: All photographs by Chris Drukker

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