Title - Your First Rodeo
Artist - Jules Leyhe
For those unaware, this ain’t your granddaddy’s blues! Heck, it ain’t even your daddy’s blues!
Guitarist Jules Leyhe is on an entirely different trip. His forthcoming album Your First Rodeo (out September 17th, 2021 via Monkey Finger Records) is a whimsical mashup of blues, hip hop, funk, fusion, jazz, rock and Latin music.
Producing the set with Protist, the Oakland, Calif.-based slide guitar slinger wrote the bucking bronco of an album that obstinately refuses to be categorized.
An audacious collection evading lasso, Your First Rodeo brilliantly juxtaposes futuristic elements with downhome “comfort” sounds.
Leyhe paired inventive sonicscapes with soulful blues guitar play. All conceived and constructed using vivid fantasy, the guitar man wondered what it would sound like to pair diametrically opposed artists – or, in this case, use signature elements of the imagined artists’ unique style – on one recording.
Picture Cardi B sitting in with the Buena Vista Social Club. Or Jimi Hendrix playing in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Or Duane Allan jamming with jazz pianist Gil Evans.
1. Taco Truck
2. Fight The Night
3. High Street
4. The Journey
5. Start Your Engines
6. The Planetarium
7. Deep Sleep
8. Sad But True
Opening on the Latin swing of Taco Truck and the vibrantly layered guitar work of Fight The Night, those are seamlessly backed up by the funky blues, sax-imbued brilliance of High Street and the stoic gossamer of The Journey.
Next up is the amazingly intense, stunningly animated, roaring race car appeal of the raw blues guitar workout within Start Your Engines and the sultry, fusion jazz-rock underground bar ambiance of The Planetarium, with this highly inventive, and seductively alluring new album rounding out on the atmospherically spatial Deep Sleep, closing on the old school slow burn of Sad But True.
I wanted to create music based off of collaborations that I’ve pictured of many of my favorite artists who never actually worked together.
The clearest example is picturing Jimi Hendrix playing with the psychedelic Beatles era, a wild pairing that never actually happened but sure is fun to imagine and try to create with my own flavor.
My bandmates’ fantastic playing and imaginations helped me reach for this sort of potential for pairing abstract, disparate musical ideas and getting away with it, or at least creating something unique to us.
This album encapsulates so many musical idioms with a gritty, urban, fun feel of an old-soul Oakland band, said Leyhe who was empowered by his Family Jules Band – keyboardist Ian McArdle, saxophonist Nancy Wright, bassist Murph Murphy and drummer Isaac Schwartz.
Enabling Leyhe’s fantastical vision is a powerful protagonist in horn player Shane Cox, who deftly uses layers of trumpet, trombone and sousaphone to illuminate the intricately textured tracks with color, might and majesty.
The horns leap off the page, providing melodic framework for Leyhe’s shrieking slide guitar, embellishing dexterous fretwork and spiking rampaging guitar assaults.
Leyhe, who will perform the National Anthem next month solo prior to an Oakland A’s vs. San Francisco Giants game and will lead his band in a tribute to Mahal at the prestigious SFJAZZ next May, has a message for those who are new to his work.
Since this is your first rodeo, hopefully you’ll find the new album to be a spirited musical adventure through wildly animated tunes.
With no lyrics and only instruments and textural/environmental sounds, we hope that the listener can hop on board our sonic journey and come up with a personal meaning for each song.
It’s supposed to be a lot of fun - like a Marvel Comics movie and like the album cover, which is filled with tongue-in-cheek, music nerd-type humor and entertainment.
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