QB3 is Christopher "Root" Heinz (drums), Fred Gerantab (guitar) and Emek Rave (bass), 3 friends and like minds from Queens, New York. The trio’s collective ability to mix solid grooves and melodies with masterful improvisation has gained quite a bit of attention just about everywhere they’ve set foot. Combining groove, funk, jazzy lines and electronically influenced beats, the group nods to many different elements of their musical DNA from John Scofield to The Pixies, but it’s indisputable that QB3 has honed their own niche in this heavily saturated musical capital of the world.
QB3’s debut CD, The Form Of Space, combines a wide range of attitudes across 7 original tracks under the trio’s signature umbrella: from straight out jam and live drum ‘n bass to deep ambient and experimental sounds and beyond.
We spoke with the members of this exciting new trio about their new CD, the process of recording, and the fuel behind it.
JAZZREVIEW: Tell us a bit about yourselves; how did you guys get started? Tell us about your new CD, The Form Of Space, and the process of recording it.
CHRISTOPHER HEINZ : Fred and I had know each other from previous bands we had worked together with and were looking to put together a new project. A friend of mine had suggested Emek to me, and the rest is history.
EMEK RAVE: I’m not sure we ever actually got started. The moment we played together for the first time it seemed like we’ve been playing together for years. It was electric. The songs began evolving from that moment on like a train bursting out of a mountain tunnel in a flare of flashing steel, sparks and smoke, relieved to finally be out in open territory. So relieved, in fact, it drives straight off the tracks into the great unknown. The songs on The Form of Space were there before we knew it, and they fit together like pieces in a googolplex puzzle. Peter (Fish, producer/keyboardist) was the necessary component in bringing it all together his vast experience and astounding intuitive insight into musical situations was all it took for this record to fly.
FRED GERANTAB: It’s a good balance of our improvisational experimentations and our compositions. Our approach to making an album was to treat it as such, not to try and to put a live show on tape, which is what a lot of bands do. That enabled us to take advantage of the studio environment and make a record that people who may never see us live will enjoy.
CHRISTOPHER HEINZ : It definitely was a great learning experience for us as a unit. We had been playing out for about year on the material, so by the time we went in the studio, the songs were pretty structured. The recording went really fast, everything was live. What you hear is what we played. Working with Peter was also a great experience. He lives in the studio, so he kind of guided us through the process. He was very generous to basically give us his studio for a month or so to mix.
JAZZREVIEW: You label yourselves primarily as a ‘live’ band. How does the stage differ from the studio?
CHRISTOPHER HEINZ : I think that any band that thrives on improv, has a certain comfort on stage, where unexpected magic can happen. As I had said before, the songs on the record are very structured; live we don’t fear taking them out. I don’t think that there is a song on the record that sounds too much like that anymore [laughs]. Honestly though, our live shows are where our fire is, we love crowd reaction, and that’s what we build on. In the studio you don’t really have that. It’s a little sterile.
FRED GERANTAB: Agreed; we had been playing out before anything else, and had been developing our ideas on stage. A lot of the material was the result of experimentations on stage that stuck; the studio actually, proved to be a bigger challenge because we knew that we’d never capture the live experience properly on tape. There are so many bands that kick ass live, but the recordings just don’t cut it because they are basically taping live shows. We wanted to take advantage of a studio environment; At each show, we’re playing for THAT show, to THAT audience, and that’s not something you can record and try and serve to somebody else. There’s something to be said for that old phrase, "You had to be there".
EMEK RAVE: In a way, studio work is an extension of live performance. Studio recording is like catching a frame, a still picture of our music in motion. It is a refined painting of where we were at the time we recorded the music, catching certain aspects but leaving others out.
JAZZREVIEW: What are your primary influences? Where do you find that you get the most ideas compositionally and improvisationally?
EMEK RAVE: Everywhere. The most trivial and unimportant little things are the fiber and backbone of every great story, and New-York City never ceases to throw those little things at you. Once the initial idea is there it crystallizes almost all by itself. It’s a sight to behold, but you would be able to hear some of it in our live performances, the change each song undergoes as it evolves into something much larger than those who created it.
FRED GERANTAB: In terms of improvising and ideas, I personally listen to a lot of the old and new greats, like Pat Metheny and Pat Martino, Herbie Hancock, Wes Montgomery, but also a lot of non-jazz stuff that falls into the rock and electronic realms. I enjoy anything that really has a cool groove or interesting twist; I don’t think we have one collective influence; our sound is a culmination of our personal influences; we don’t tend to model ourselves after one source, although we do mutually appreciate a lot of things.
CHRISTOPHER HEINZ : Compositionally, we work as a unit. We all contribute to the songs one way or the other. Improvisationally, its in the moment. I think that the crowd response has a lot to do with that. Almost like they are the 4th member of the band. " Laughs".
JAZZREVIEW: You seem to mix a great deal of things in the pot; although it’s obvious you’re all very jazz and improv-oriented, there are some electronic, funk and even reggae things in there. How have you managed to combine so many things while maintaining a core ‘sound’?
CHRISTOPHER HEINZ : I think that comes from us all being influenced by different things. We do all have some kind of "jazz" back ground, but we all listen to different things. As far as the core sound goes, we kind of take all that influence that we have and come up with QB3. QB3 in a sense doesn’t have too much of a core sound. It really is the product of many minds and styles, creating music we all dig.
FRED GERANTAB: ..without focusing too much on one thing. It almost naturally forms itself; we play what we like, and it always comes out sounding like us. We’ve never sat down and determined "This is what we’re going to sound like".
EMEK RAVE: ..and it doesn’t depend on maintenance or on anyone trying to create it. It is there whenever the three of us get together and play, no matter how hard we try to break away from it (and we do!) it defines us better than we could ever define ourselves. This sound is not in what you hear in an odd way, it is in what you don’t hear it is the point of connection between the instruments and the beats and the chords it’s the brush stroke you will never see in a painting, if the painter knows what he’s doing, but it is the heart of the picture.
FRED GERANTAB: It always comes out in our playing, and every little thing that’s inspiring us at any given time seeps into the mix, giving us a new idea or edge.
JAZZREVIEW: What are the limits (if any) with the trio formation? Do you ever feel inclined to expand the lineup?
CHRISTOPHER HEINZ : As far as limits go, I think we have different sounds in our heads that are at times difficult to reproduce on our instruments. At times we do expand the lineup; we have the smoking’ DJ Moose, whose played with Soulive as well, and Dror (Ben-Gur) on sax who is really off the chain; both have joined us at some shows. We can’t forget Peter Fish, who played keys on the record and has joined us at quite a few shows. The limit is really more of a tonal one, not a ‘fullness’ issue. If we choose to bring in a guest it is to feature a sound we can’t reproduce.
FRED GERANTAB: We’ve done a pretty good job of overcome many of those limits. We’ve always been a trio and therefore have learned to shape our sound around our formation. We’ve been fortunate enough to know some great players who sit in with us when necessary, as Chris had mentioned.
EMEK RAVE: I could see more advantages than disadvantages. If anything, an addition limits us in that sound becomes dense, and it is less easy to discern the differences between one song and another. A trio’s minimalist approach is also breaking away from the very rich and satisfying Jazz and funk harmonies we’ve all come to know very well in the last few decades. In a way, maybe too much has been said all at once, and we’re trying to say some very essential and basic things in a way they’ve never been said before, we can’t be losing anyone’s attention too quickly. When two melodic lines interact within a rhythm, there is much more to be read between the lines if the underlying harmonies are never given; only hinted at. That is what the form of space is about.
FRED GERANTAB: Peter’s playing on the recording contributed nicely to the sound without taking away from what we are. I don’t think we plan to add any permanent members; it’s nice having a collective of talented musicians to work with when the event calls for it.
JAZZREVIEW: Who on the scene do you feel is really doing something different? Being based in New York City I imagine you probably have access to your fair share of cutting edge music.
EMEK RAVE: We’re lucky to be living in a time and place where being different is a necessary evil. There are so many... Just to mention a few, the Bostonian trio "The Fringe" (they’ve been the slicing edge for years and have never blinked an eye in the face of fear), the New-York Mojahva Sound System and UK based electronic-trip-hop duo "Lamb" are among my favorites.
CHRISTOPHER HEINZ : Oh yeah. If you want new ideas and bad-ass players to back it up, NY is the place to be. I would have to say for myself, I love what Wayne Krantz is doing. He is a big influence, plus Dave Binney, and the cats from Sex Mob. These guys are really stretching the " jazz/improve/funk/electronic, envelope." It feels great to know that they are really trying to move this along. This is a great time for music and NYC.
FRED GERANTAB: Ditto on Wayne Krantz, They really combine over-the-top musicianship with groove and innovation. Emek turned me onto "Lamb" and they’re definitely up there; even though they’re not NY-based, they still deserve a shout out for originality.
JAZZREVIEW: What direction do you anticipate taking in the near future musically? What would like to do next?
FRED GERANTAB: We’ll kind of go with our own flow, I think. We tend to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses from time to time, and use that as a reference point. We really enjoy laying down basic grooves, but realize that there is also a certain complexity to the way we think harmonically and rhythmically that breaks out of that. We continue to derive from electronic music, like in "Boom!", and always get a kick out of trying to get new sounds to come out of our instruments.
CHRISTOPHER HEINZ : I guess I just want to keep moving forward. I really want to move this movement of new music and groove as far as it can go.
EMEK RAVE: I want to do everything.
JAZZREVIEW: We would like to thank you guys for spending some time with us. It was great to hear about your fantastic new release. Best of luck!
QB3’s debut CD, The Form Of Space, is available at CDBaby.com (www.cdbaby.com/qb3). You can read more about QB3 and listen to music from the CD at the band’s official site.