- A Tree Grows Interview Jammerzine Exclusive 28:27
If ever there was a genre of music that was just as much a concept in expression, that genre would be jazz. Jazz is such a genre in that it has permeated artistic cultures around the world, yet has consistently stayed true to itself. It is truly a music of culture and of the people in which those within it consistently carry the torch with purity and drive. And one of the latest artists to do just that is NYC based A Tree Grows. And we talk to A Tree Grows keyboardist Emanuel Ruffler about just that. We also discuss their latest single “Wau Wau Water” and their upcoming EP releasing March 17 on Rufftone Records.
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About A Tree Grows
Each composition on this coming LP surrounds a difference concept, describing a distinct state in the evolution of life on earth. The images are snapshots, extending from the beginning of life to the emergence of emotions, to aspects of modern human life. The cycle closes with possibilities for future development: self perpetuating intelligence. The composition Wau Wau Water is based on the following concept: “Enzymes are forming in a prehistoric ocean – evolving into bacteria. A stew of life is brewing, the cycle starts and intensifies in this patch of fertile Wau Wau Water.”
“Defining and discussing these concepts during the rehearsal and recording process created a sense of purpose among the musicians and a deeper engagement with the compositions. This has transformed our creative process,” explains Emanuel Ruffler.
The accompanying video was created by acclaimed videographer Hideki Shiota, who has received the Best Cinematography Award at the Asian American International Film Festival.
A Tree Grows creates instrumental jazz-core music that tastefully crosses stylistic barriers. This unique collaboration involves two brothers – Rashaan Carter and Russell Carter – and German-born electronic musician Emanuel Ruffler. Together, they create sonic textures, over which Tivon Penicott and Duane Eubanks stretch a layer of raw, emotional jazz lines. Not afraid to defy expectations of style, instrumentation and expression, the unique style of each member of A Tree Grows makes for a potent sonic concoction that is refreshing, insightful, and deliciously exciting.
At the top of today’s young saxophone world, Tivon Pennicott brings fantastic rhythm, tasteful melodic lines and the deeply important groove. A two-time Grammy winner and runner-up in the prestigious Thelonius Monk Competition, he is also a prominent part of jazz-soul singer Gregory Porter’s band. Arguably one of the decade’s most celebrated and genre-crossing artists, in the last few years, Gregory Porter performances have featured Tivon Pennicott on countless live and TV appearances across the globe. Hailing fron Georgia, Tivon began playing with guitar legend Kenny Burrell while still in college, performing at many of the world’s greatest venues alongside the likes of Stevie Wonder and Wynton Marsalis. Since moving to New York in 2009, he has collaborated with numerous artists, appeared on Esperanza Spalding’s crossover success “Radio Music Society”, and toured with master drummer Al Foster, best known for his long-term collaboration with Miles Davis.
Emanuel Ruffler, a New York resident of more than 20 years, also comes with a colorful musical pedigree. After taking grand prize in the Thelonious Monk Competition, he has achieved songwriting credit on Me’shell Ndegocello’s ‘Aquarium’ and also collaborated with world-famous designer Emanuel Ungaro, which ultimately led to Ruffler soundtracking an ad for an Ungaro-produced perfume.
Rashaan and Russell Carter’s love of music fostered by their saxophonist father and mother, a radio programmer. The bass ultimately became the voice for Rashaan’s musical expression with Russell on drums. They cut their teeth on the local Washington, D.C. scene with artists such as as Gary Thomas and after Rashaan moved to New York City to attend the New School University, he quickly began working with many faculty members, including percussionist and composer Joe Chambers. Rashaan met future bandmate Emanuel Ruffler at that time.
Trumpeter Duane Eubanks has performed everywhere from the Hollywood Bowl to Carnegie Hall to the Kennedy Center, in addition to Europe and Japan. He is a member of Dave Holland’s two time Grammy Award winning big band and the late Mulgrew Miller’s band, Wingspan. Having played with dozens of renowned figures in the jazz world, he has crossed over into other genres, recording and touring with The Temptations, Alicia Keys, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Wu Tang Clan, Freedom Williams, Kirk Franklin, and Defunkt.
“It’s inspiring to play in the company of such amazing work. The studio is this incubator for creative energy and it’s nice to absorb that. The space plays an important role in a concert and one that houses and spawns creative work is always welcome.” says bassist Rashaan Carter.
Rufftone Records released A Tree Grows ‘Wau Wau Water’ on November 4 via Bandcamp and the usual online retailers.
Emanuel Ruffler – keyboards
Tivon Pennicott – saxophone
Rashaan Carter – bass
Russell Carter – drums
Duane Eubanks – trumpet
“Employing a slight funk and groove, Brooklyn-based jazz group A Tree Growscreate a smooth atmosphere that sounds both improvised and yet focused conjuring images of smoky bars and sultry late nights”
– Overblown Magazine
“A Tree Grows is comprised of some of the most exciting creative musicians on the New York scene… This instrumental four-piece smoothly combines elements of jazz, electronica and soul music in their compositions”
– The Record Stache
“One of the most interesting young jazz collectives in Brooklyn… uniquely combining jazz with Afrobeat, rock, and experimental sounds. Such a fine vision”
– System Failure
“A mind-embracing sound emanating from one of the most important corners of the jazz and art world. Their sound is woven of the fabric that ultimately gave rise to this fantastic fusion”
– The Big Takeover