Grammy award winning keyboardist and original Snarky Puppy member Bill Laurance has released his debut solo CD/DVD entitled “Flint”.
The album showcases Laurance’s keyboard virtuosity and his outstanding, genre-stretching compositions. Also featured is Michael League, who fills the roles of bassist, producer, guitarist, and arranger.
The album defies easy categorization and instead creates a captivating soundscape that boldly fuses elements of jazz, classical, electronica, emotive piano ballads, funk, and other styles. Laurance’s exceptional playing drives each piece in interesting and unique directions, while Michael responds with innovative, perfectly matched bass lines. To create the plethora of fascinating tones heard on the record, Michael utilized a full arsenal of electric instruments: his Alleva 5-string, ’76 Fender P-Bass, ’67 Hofner, and Moog key bass. Along with his electric choices, Michael breaks out his German upright for pieces such as “Chia”, in which he creates beautiful counter-melodies to Bill’s piano and the string section:
From the bass perspective, the stylistic range that Michael brings to the album is extraordinary. The diverse offerings include the pulsing underpinning of “Ready Wednesday”, a hyper, rhythmic “Neverending City”, and the Moog-fueled grooves of “Swag Times”.
Michael says, “I’m used to playing different bass roles with different artists, but I very rarely get the opportunity to show almost every side of my musical personality on the same album. I feel like this was the case with ‘Flint.’ Playing deep grooves on 5-string (like Neverending City), heavily effected solos on my Hofner (the end of The Good Things), old-school P-bass funk (Ready Wednesday), grooving upright (Chia), really sensitive upright (Audrey), electric and 12-string acoustic guitars (Money in the Desert, Neverending City, and Ready Wednesday), and combining Moog key bass and electric bass for a super fat texture in the low end (Swag Times) all made this album a really fulfilling project for me. The opportunity to produce the album alongside Bill and arrange the strings and horns allowed me to create some interesting contrasts and counterpoint between the rhythm section and the orchestra. Bill’s music is so varied, and although it’s full of super thick grooves, it always retains a very emotional and dynamic element. I felt like my main job was to create an audiophile-worthy aesthetic (Bill and I referred to our desired goal as ‘sonic pornography’) while preserving the initial sensitivity of the compositions.”
Laurance describes the album as, “…the album I have been looking for ever since I started making music.” Bill comments further, “In the past I had written music with a specific genre in mind from Classical to Jazz to Electro Pop. This time I wanted to put all the music I have come to love in one album. I became interested in how a lack of categorisation can be a good thing. I just wanted to make music that moved me, irrelevant of genre.
Having known and worked with Michael League (Bass) and Robert ‘Sput’ Searight (Drums) for the last 10 years, we’d been able to develop a strong sense of one-another’s playing and how to get the best out of each other. We knew straight away when an idea was going to work.
It was also important to me to allow Mike and Sput sufficient freedom in adding their voice to the album as I had written many sections specifically with them in mind. Once I had the basic composition in my head, I gave it to Mike to articulate the Orchestration and for Sput to personalise the groove. Allowing them this freedom was a significant factor in realising the compositions and bringing the album to life.”