This July, a 12-passenger Ford Voyager van embarked on a tour through the east coast and midwest. With Brad Linde at the wheel and his jazz students in the back, the Spaces and Places 2018 tour travelled far and wide as they played nightly gigs and saw various obscure attractions.
The tour had been in the works well before the summer of 2018. Every other summer Brad Linde, GDS’s jazz band teacher, goes on tour with his band, Team Players. The group was due for another adventure following the release of their new album Smells Like Team Spirit. When Brad suggested that the Xander Davies Quartet (XD4) open for Team Players on their 2018 summer tour, the band enthusiastically agreed.
XD4, consisting of senior Xander Davis, senior Alex Carmen, senior Eli Thayer and recent graduate Doudy Tang, was accompanied by senior Kat Liu’s solo noise guitar show, Kat’s Noise Emporium. Recent graduate Maite Lopez accompanied the group, regularly joining both XD4 and Team Players. The artists played a wide range of music, from the original compositions of Kat’s Noise Emporium to the 12-tone avant garde jazz of the Team Players to the more traditional jazz standards of XD4. Each act alternated between repertory pieces, original compositions or arrangements, and improvisations.
Just as wide-ranged as the music played on the tour were the locales that the students visited. The tour began in DC and made its way to states all around the country, from Michigan to North Carolina, stopping in cities like Ypsilanti, Chicago, and Wilmington. The bands played in bookstores, jazz clubs, museums, eateries, and chicken shacks. They even slept and played in a thrift store-turned-museum called Elsewhere in Greensboro, NC where artists come from all over the world to do residencies. Additionally, students had the opportunity to play improvised duets with members of Team Players as well as local musicians.
All in all, Linde spent about a year planning the tour, finding sleeping accommodations and venues for the bands to play. “Almost all the gigs were just our three groups. A few times we had a local group to attract a bigger crowd, and one time the guitarist from Brad’s band played with his band Liver Quiver,” noted senior Xander Davies of the eponymous XD4.
In reflecting upon the tour, the members made note of the way that their playing changed throughout their journey.
“What is really remarkable is [the students’] improvement and the way the music evolved and grew from first gig to the second gig to the third gig,” remarked Linde, noting that the students independently sought musical advice after their gigs.
Linde commented that although the group began the tour with a very “straight ahead” jazz style they became “more creative and looser” with the music as the tour went on.
“Jazz is based in improvisation, but it did get a little repetitive by the end,” Davies said. “To fight this, Brad put all of our names into a hat and picked out two names to do a completely improvised duo.”
While the students enjoyed themselves thoroughly, the members remarked that it can be difficult spending so many days on the road with your bandmates.
“Tour is mainly about your relationship with other people and getting along with your bandmates, more so than the music that you perform,” noted Liu. “95% of the time you’re in the van, planning the event or dressing up or just eating food together and it’s a lot more difficult that you think. Although you’re stuck in a van with a bunch of your friends and having fun, it can be very tiring at times. There’s always this balance that you have to make.”
But, despite any difficulties they may have encountered, the tour was a success.
“I would absolutely do a similar tour [with these students],” said Linde. “Next year, they’re talking about maybe doing a southwest tour or perhaps a European tour, which I’d be happy to do with this crew. They’re very special.”
BY Jenna Schulman’19 and Caroline Katzive’19