By McCray Sutherlin
Local jazz-fusion quintet, The Easy, is set to drop their highly anticipated debut album on October 3.
“This self-titled [album] is a great representation of what we have already accomplished,” trombonist Nick Garrison explained. “A lot of these tunes were the first things we wrote as a group. They have evolved over time into arrangements; a step up from the jams that they started as.”
Although this is their first studio release, The Easy has showcased their electrifying live performance many times around town.
The Easy is comprised of talents from several different regions and includes Eli Williams (drums), Grant Hudson (guitar), Nick Garrison (trombone), John Mann V (vibraphone, synthesizer), and bassist/MC Chris “Two Stroke” Polk.
Recently, the band changed their dynamic and brought Chris Polk out as the front-man.
“With Chris’s vocals we have enjoyed writing more hip-hop-styled pieces,” Garrison said. “Lyrics give the audience something to grab hold of, and having them makes us approachable to a wider crowd.”
Polk’s insightful lyricism and lively stage presence has proven to be a great addition to the band’s versatile sound.
“I’m happy people dig where we are going with things,” Polk said. “The transition was very new to me, as I’m usually just in the back doing my thing. But all in all it’s fun to put out lyrics or any music and have people react positively. Our response to it has really made the stage feel like home.”
Another addition to the group’s ever-expanding landscape has come in the form of electronic instrumentation. Vibraphonist John Mann V now supplies a wide range of synth work that brings a sense of cosmic wonder to the stage.
“Many of the parts are specifically written out but there is a lot flexibility and improvising,” Mann V said. “As a group we want to have a live experience that can change with how the audience is reacting and this has had a direct influence on my writing style for the vibraphone.”
Drummer Eli Williams is a student of percussion at LSU and lays down the foundation for The Easy’s jazz based groove. He is originally from Illinois and draws on influences such as Led Zeppelin and Bela Fleck.
San Diego native Garrison, another product of LSU’s School of Music, graduated in 2012 with a B.A in Performance. He now works full-time as a soloist, sideman, and section player for other local groups including After 8, The Rusty Yates Band, Café Au Lait, and the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra.
Lead guitarist Grant Hudson was born in Fort Meyers, Fla. and has studied with renowned jazz musicians such as Dan Miller, the trumpeter for Wynton Marsalis. Hudson now splits his time between The Easy and space funk cadets, Captain Green.
“It’s a very rewarding process working with both groups because of the sheer talent of all the musicians involved, and since both groups have their own style of music I get to explore different avenues of my creativity on a weekly basis. I’m having a blast.”
Good news for The Easy fans outside of Baton Rouge: “A tour is in the works!” Garrison said. “We’ve really been waiting for the album to come out before we send our EPK to all of the venues we want to play.”
“We are planning for a Florida tour during the first week of January, and another couple tours set for next summer.”
On October 3 at the Roux House, Luke St. John will be Master of Ceremonies, and The Easy will be joined by the Lafayette based band, Brass Mimosa. Be sure to get your tickets early for this one.
The Easy (Debut Album Release Party)
$5 Pre-Sale, $7 at the door