George Steeltoe Ensemble - No Label Sessions (2005)
Jay Dunbar - bass, cover art
Peter Evans - trumpet
Daniel Carter - sax
Lathan Hardy - sax
Brian Osborne - percussion, package sticker
Jeffrey Shurdut - guitar, engineer
Recorded in Brooklyn, NYC; September 20, 2005.
Jay Dunbar was born in Pittsburgh and moved around a lot until he attended middle and high school in Kentucky. He earned a degree at NC State and then returned to get involved in the Lexington scene while fulfilling his scholarship to attend graduate school. While living in Kentucky he met Brian Osborne through a friend of a friend. They started exploring and playing 'Jazz stuff', because Brian was heading in that direction with his drumming and Jay had just gotten a double bass. Jeff Chapple came on the scene there and the three started playing together with others in an informal weekly gathering that became known as CHURCH. These gatherings were the seed for the GEORGE STEELTOE ENSEMBLE, with saxophonist Lathan Hardy joining the trio whenever he would come through town about once a month.
"This is a GEORGE STEELTOE disc called the NO LABELS SESSION that was originally intended to be a release for selling on tour, but when Lathan Hardy listened to it he said, 'Man, that's not just me on sax!' So we realized it was most probably Daniel Carter. We had already made up all the CDs and hadn't credited Daniel. My idea was to just make new labels or something, because these are great cuts, but it was put together last minute before tour and we decided we just couldn't put it out. Definitely not without a clear credit to Daniel who is such a huge influence on our sound and approach. As a result I don't think ANYONE has a copy of this! It's a great release because it has this beautiful abstract watercolor cover and the sounds are pretty strong. So, I think it's high time we correct this long forgotten oversight and put it on the WBTPR Blog. Daniel is a good friend, so he's gonna love to hear that the music is finally out there, and I think Brian would be pretty excited, too. As far as the Free Jazz world is concerned, Peter Evans is a superb trumpeter and Jeffrey Shurdut is an excellent yet controversial artist and guitarist. It was a great cast of players and a memorable session."
"There wasn't really a lot of GEORGE STEELTOE stuff that was released anyway. There's the one LP which was the most carefully constructed release. We made 500 copies and did the covers with something like 4 passes on a letterpress. So, it was time consuming but turned out to be a really beautiful product. That was the big one, and this one that was never released was intended as a followup tour piece. I think there is one more release Brian has more recently put together with a different cast of characters, because he still does STEELTOE jams in Brooklyn. The way I always envisioned GEORGE STEELTOE was as a franchise if you will, where if we wanted to; me, you, Eric Jackson and John Bryan could do a STEELTOE show. Me (Jay), Brian Osbourne, Jeff Chapple and Lathan Hardy invented it together, but we always brought other people in and it's always been pretty loose. It's not as much like a band as it is a concept. It's an approach, which is; totally Free, wide open, careful listening, with a Jazz aesthetic involving bass and horns. GEORGE STEELTOE is always a push and pull between a players project and an audience driven experience. Meandering can be great, but it doesn't necessarily lend itself to a good recording or listening experience. The LP that we were able to get so much good material on, was from 2 full days of recording. Something like 5 hours of tape.
"This unreleased recording is going to be great to hear, especially in the format you're working with on the WBTPR Blog. It's a complete package that's beautiful, and I'm really proud of it. Brian made the brilliant see-thru stickers and I did the coverwork. I had these big sheets of paper, and I would put these various watercolors on a roller, and just roll along the paper. So you would have this strange continuity, where 4 or 5 would look similar with little variations. Doing this stuff for me has always been about how can you make it aesthetically interesting without spending any money. That's the challenge; can you do it really cheap but cool?"
Text transribed from interview conducted with Jay Dunbar by Samb Hicks, October 22, 2009. This is Part One of Five; releasing the information & recordings of Jay Dunbar on the Wherehoused By The Psychic Revolutiuon Blog.
One: GEORGE STEELTOE ENSEMBLE
Two: MARK THE SCHIZOPHRENIC
Three: COWBOYS & INDIANS
Five: CAKES OF LIGHT
Download the George Steeltoe Ensemble - No Labels Session: HERE