By Doug Hill
“For Jazz in June we’re going to be playing contemporary jazz with funk grooves,” Jake Fischbach said. “We’re into a lot of different styles of music.”
He’s the bass player and co-founder along with guitarist Hugh Conine of Paseo Street Walkers, an Oklahoma City-based group who have been playing club shows for about a year. The band’s Jazz in June line-up will include brothers Jeremiah and Eric French on guitar and percussion respectively and Justin Sechrist playing trombone.
“We won’t be playing strictly jazz standards,” Jeremiah said. “Paseo Street Walkers will be a good gateway for people who aren’t purists or die-hard jazz fans.”
The quintet doesn’t stand on musical convention, performing everything from Latin tinged compositions to Pink Floyd mash-ups in the same set. They’re reminiscent of Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey’s early days of fusing a variety of genre’s influence into a satisfying whole.
Paseo Street Walkers take their name from the Paseo District in Oklahoma City they call home. Going back over 30 years the area has a history of attracting free spirits, counter-culture happenings and free expression.
“It’s not necessarily representative of our music but a mindset in general,” Fischbach said. “Actually most of what’s played on the Paseo is more folk-oriented, so musically we’re kind of outcasts there.”
It’s a Bohemian neighborhood with distinctive Spanish colonial architecture, art galleries and one main live performance venue formerly called Galileo’s now Picasso’s, that has welcomed all kinds of sounds for nearly a generation.
“We’re proud of where we’re from, man,” Conine said. “Our friends are there, we care about them and they do what they do well, we just represent in a different way.”
That way is exciting. Jazz fusion is an idea that’s much older than the average age of 27 among the Paseo Street Walkers cats but they’re breathing fresh life into the genre. Think of them as a Return to Forever or Weather Report for the 21st century. Naturally they’re not afraid to experiment, that’s part of the sonic territory. Check out their collaboration with vocalist Sammy Butler (Flora and the Faunas) performing rock cover “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” on YouTube. Bringing in other musicians during their live performances for a rotating cast of characters is just part of the fun in their opinion. It’s a smart thing to do and goes back to the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey comparison because that’s often their modus operandi.
“We go for an eclectic style from one song to the next,” Jeremiah said.
Influences range from Andre Segovia to recent friends they’ve made on the local scene. They cited New Growth Quartet, who has played Norman’s Performing Arts Studio’s jazz series, among their creative inspirations. Conine grew up in Vinita and sometimes the band goes there to practice for a fresh perspective and rejuvenation of their spirits.
“We make a weekend of it and touch base with Jon Karlsson who has a studio there,” Conine said. “We have common ground in digging smooth jazz.”
Paseo Street Walkers’ original compositions have mainly come from Conine’s and Fischbach’s creative simpatico. They found each other on craigslist after Fischbach moved here from Columbia, Mo.
“We’d bounce ideas off each other and sometimes songs were nearly complete,” Fischbach said. “Hugh and I have a pretty good working relationship so our styles mesh pretty well.”
The French brothers have been writing their own parts into the mix as they master the songs.
“It’s been more than learning what existed already,” Jeremiah said.
French's band mates affirmed that he’s not directionally challenged fitting into the Paseo Street Walkers’ groove. Naturally there’s a certain amount of tension between pulling the sound more to the rock or jazz sides.
“I like the funk, man,” Fischbach said. “I’m all about the 1980s and '90s Red Hot Chili Peppers and that’s what I like to play.”
He is a bass player after all.
Expect to see multiple show listings for Paseo Street Walkers around Oklahoma this summer.
“We have some shows out at Grand Lake in a place called Island Joe’s,” Fischbach said. “We’ll be at Sound Pony in Tulsa. Our goal for the remainder of the year is write more material and re-record some tracks.”
Check them out Saturday evening at Jazz in June and watch for a Paseo Street Walkers album later in 2013.
If You Go:
What: Paseo Street Walkers at Jazz in June
Where: Andrews Park, 201 W. Daws
When: 6:45 p.m. June 22.
Paseo Street Walkers' Jake Fischback (l), Hugh Conine and Jeremiah French intend to blow some minds at Jazz in June with their free-wheeling style.