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SounDoctrine Releases New Jazz Album, ‘Source’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – To hear Jere B describe the influences on SounDoctrine is to hear a whirlwind of musical groups and artists. Groups such as The 5th Dimension, The Four Tops and solo artists such as Conway Twitty and Stevie Wonder pop up as he reels off name after name after name.

In fact, he came up with a genre to describe the sound of his band – “originalalternativefunkjazzfusion.” And yes, he adds, it’s all one word.

“It’s George Clinton riding with Bob James on their way to Quincy Jones’ house while listening to Steely Dan,” Jere B says.

But when it comes to the group’s newest album, “Source,” Jere B can point to one project that stands above the rest as the inspiration – Chicago-born jazz pianist Herbie Hancock’s “Imagine” album.

“He works with people like John Legend and other current artists. They do their stuff, but Hancock comes in and plays piano with overtly jazz progressions on top,” Jere B explains. “When we started working on ‘Source,’ that’s the influence we wanted to draw from.”

The only single on the album – “Stop on By,” featuring guitarist Eric Tyus – is being well-received on jazz radio nationwide, with stations in Springfield, Mass., Nashville, Tenn., Las Vegas and Boston picking up the track. In Cleveland, the song reached No. 8 at WNWV The Wave. WYEP in Pittsburgh is also slotting the song in its rotation.

The album will be released in early September.

“Stop on By” is the first time the band has a dedicated, handpicked single. On previous albums, SounDoctrine would send its recordings to stations and let them choose the singles.

“But with that, it may get big in Chicago, but no one hears it in Memphis,” Jere B says. “This was a concerted effort to make all the smooth jazz stations play [that one song].”

The band has a four-man roster – Frank Walton, Mitchell Lawrence and Dylan Waters join Jere B – and they reached out to other musicians to perform on the album, collaborating both in the studio and digitally.

“It’s less a band than it is a project. The idea was never to have our own John, George, Paul and Ringo,” Jere B explains. “For us, it had to be these central guys because they were available. But what happened was it grew over time. When we went out on the road, it was a revolving door.”

And each member has contributed his own piece of the puzzle, says Walton, the keyboardist.

“What makes this album special is that we’ve each put into it. We all have self-composed songs, so it’s not one guy calling all the shots. It’s a team effort and truly a band,” Walton says. “As a musician, this is what I want to do. There’s nothing better than being on the road, playing in front of people and spreading the music, especially when it’s your music.”

For the younger members of the band, having the guest artists and rotating accompanying cast helps them learn to be better performers, they say.

“You have to be around musicians who are better than you,” says saxophonist Lawrence. “As a music educator, you’re used to being around someone who’s brand-new, but as a performer you need to go out and get your butt kicked. We’ve gone out before national acts and it really hammered me into shape.”

Lawrence, Walton and Waters attended Youngstown State University together. Walton joined SounDoctrine in 2009, Lawrence and Waters in 2012.

Discovery is the core of jazz, the group says, which leads to a lot of experimentation, both on stage and in the studio.

“So far, the whole recording process has been fun. We get to be creative and play around with things to get our personal touch on them,” says Waters, SounDoctrine’s bassist. “Somebody will have an idea and I’ll pick up on it. We just go from there and let it snowball. It happens the whole time. That’s how a whole song is made in here.”

Helping with that discovery, Jere B relates, is bringing in musicians from different backgrounds.

“I sought out like-minded musicians. When we first got SounDoctrine together, most of the people we got were those who could draw from all these different experiences,” he says.

After performing on Fox 8 in Cleveland on Sept. 14 to debut its new music, SounDoctrine will hit the road, traveling to Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and a few shows in Delaware before returning to play in the Mahoning Valley.

“D.C., Baltimore and Delaware are like a second home to us when we tour. It’s where we thrive because they have an open-door policy [on musical styles],” Jere B says.

From those shows, SounDoctrine can review what their band has done and see the changes needed in future performances or to make in the studio the next time they record.

“We try to record every performance we do. And we go back and listen to it, just like football teams watch tape of their last game to see what mistakes were made and how they scored touchdowns,” Jere B says.

Now, with the clock ticking down to the release of “Source,” the band members are all excited, albeit in different ways. “What I’m most surprised about is the number of guest artists. A lot of them are people we’ve played gigs with. They’re blowing me away with their solos on this album,” Lawrence says.

“It’s fun to see the fruits of your labor become real,” Walton says. “This is the first time doing this with this group of cats and with all of us coming from different backgrounds and cultures, it’s really special.”

Jere B hopes SounDoctrine fans hear something the group hasn’t performed before.

“This album’s probably the most eclectic album we’ve ever done. We’ve taken out all the brakes and done some classical passages, some weird parts and some nondescript music,” he explains. “There’s not much in the sense of what our listeners would expect from us.”

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Pictured: Pictured: Frank Walton, Dylan Waters, Jere B and Mitchell Lawrence are the current core of SounDoctrine. Jere B invited other artists to contribute, including guitarist Eric Tyus, on the band’s single “Stop on By.” The song peaked at No. 8 on WNWV in Cleveland.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.