INTERVIEW: Project Grand Slam
By Cyrus Rhodes
I recently had the privilege of reviewing the latest SINGLE from New York based: Project Grand Slam who covered the classic Hollies single "He Aint Heavy He's My Brother" released in 2011. Let me say there's nothing more deadlier than a soulful singer, a hot band and a powerful message. "He Aint' Heavy He's My Brother" by PGS has all of the above and is an impressive snapshot of music from Project Grand Slam. They made a good call brining in a singer like Hennessey and going with a classic piece of music like this. Because of this the single presents a more marketable dimension for additional fans. PGS delivers the goods, and at the end of the day this song is a hit waiting to happen. It definitely adds fuel to the fire for a hot up and coming New York based Electric Jazz Band. Need I say more?
IMD How would you classify your music and your overall writing style?
PGS Electric Jazz. That says it all. Improvisational music with balls.
IMD Who are some of your top 5 musical influences – both vocally and musically?
PGS Miles Davis, Weather Report, Chick Corea, Beatles
IMD How do you envision the new release to differ sonically from your previous album, “Play”? What can jazz music fans expect from the new forthcoming release?
PGS Our new album was recorded at Eastside Sound in NYC, one of the oldest and best studios in the city. They helped us capture a warm, friendly sound to the album. All of the basic tracking on the tunes was done in 1 or 2 takes, in order to keep the music as fresh as possible. Then we refined it. The new album is really an extension of "Play". Gilad Ronen and I wrote all of the tunes on the record; I wrote 5 and he wrote 2. One of his is a vocal, and then we recorded "He Ain't Heavy" as a second vocal. First and foremost we try to write memorable melodies, because that's what great music is all about.
IMD What’s the main thing you want people to take from your music?
PGS We think that our music has tremendous cross-appeal in terms of age and personal preferences. This is not background muzak; PGs is a combination of melody, beat and groove that's totally in-your-face. We hope it has a very wide appeal, not just restricted to "jazz fans".
IMD What was the first song you ever wrote?
PGS Cakewalk For Debra, which I wrote for my then-girlfriend, now-wife. I recorded it on my first album, "Child's Play", released in 1994. Randy Brecker (trumpet) and Anton Fig (drums) were guest artists on the track.
"PGS is a combination of melody, beat and groove that's totally in-your-face."
- Project Grand Slam -
IMD What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?
PGS Probably the original Woodstock. I arrived early morning on Day 2 just as Joe Cocker and his band were taking the stage.
IMD Is there a song that stands out on this upcoming release as being your favorite on your latest album?
PGS Ma Petite Fleur, a lovely, delicate little song that I wrote for my wife
IMD How’s the music business in your neck of the woods?
PGS The good thing about the music business in 2012 is that it's very democratic - anyone can create music and put it out on the Internet. The bad thing is that it's very, very hard now to get noticed among all the releases. Democracy is a bitch!
IMD What’s next for Project Grand Slam?
PGS Our plans for 2012 are to continue to raise money to fight child abuse with our single, "He Ain't Heavy", to release the new album - preferably with a label partner in order to obtain the best and widest distribution, and to play live gigs behind the album. All the guys in the group are up for that.
IMD Talk about the new cover song of “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.” What inspired you to cover this particular song?
PGS On "Play" we covered "The Captain Of Her Heart" by Double. Our version, with vocals by Judie Tzuke, was a top radio hit. When we were getting ready to do the new album I said to Ron Thaler, our Producer and Drummer, that perhaps we should do another cover with a vocal. He had Joye Hennessey in mind as the singer, and Joye always loved that song and wanted to record it.
IMD I think it’s great that part of the proceeds from “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” are going to RAINN and Prevent Child Abuse PA. Is there a reason you chose those particular organizations?
PGS We literally were mixing the new album when the whole Penn State scandal broke. I instantly thought that the words and message of "Heavy" were totally applicable to the healing effort being undertaken. I proposed to the group that we release "Heavy" ahead of the album and that we donate all the proceeds to charity to fight child abise. We chose the two charities noted because they seemed to be the leading charities supporting the overall effort.
interview conducted by Cyrus Rhodes. Property of Indie Music Media LLC.
Copyright © 2012
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