Today we welcome the amazing James Jacoby, tuba player extraordinaire (and current member of the Brandon Schott live ensemble) to discuss his work on Crayons & Angels, his origin story with the world's 2nd sexiest instrument (second only to the kazoo), and his deep rooted love of the French Dip sandwich.
James, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us. Tell, me - what is it that drew you to playing the tuba?
I never chose the tuba. The tuba chose me. I was there, in my 6th grade band director's office, suddenly faced with a question that would loom imposingly over my dreams for years to come: "What instrument do you want to play?" And there it was, gleaming in the incandescent glow of mind-numbing overhead school lights ... a shiny, brass trumpet. I ignored it completely and chose the tuba right behind it, and the rest is history.
I like to think of it as fate.
What was your favorite memory from recording tuba on VERDUGO PARK for "Crayons & Angels", and how was it working with Brandon on the record?
As a producer, Brandon creates a comforting atmosphere of creativity and whimsy, having a clear direction but also encouraging new ideas. It truly felt collaborative.
There have been rumors for years that Brandon has a very distinct....how should we put this delicately......flatulence problem whenever he gets excited during creative marathons. Was this an issue recording at Cellar Sounds, or was he on the proper meds during your collaboration?
Is this on or off the record?
No no, I promise not to publish this question...I'm just curious, because - man.....some of the stories I've heard........
Are you sure ... ?
No no - we absolutely won't post this on his website as part of a featured article.
Well, if you say so ...
The truth is that Brandon, as a musicologist and art scientician, has spent many years in a spiritual quest to find the elusive brown note. Its final discovery was the breakthrough that seeded the ideas for this record. It was through brown note experimentation that he tapped into the greater truth of the universe, which he then filtered into the songs you hear on Crayons & Angels. The process was messy, but the result is stunning.
Well, that's intense stuff. Now that we have you on the record on that point, let's move on. What are some of your favorite tuba songs? Is there one in particular that inspired you to greatness?
Certainly, I was influenced by the great tubaists like Sousa collaborator Bill Bell, Jazz great Red Callender, Hollywood legend Jim Self, the Canadian's Brass's Chuck Daellenbach, and my mentor Bill Clark of the Queen City Jazz Band. Classic songs like "When Yuba Play The Tuba Down In Cuba" and Jabba the Hut's theme from Return of the Jedi were inspirational.
I heard you just recorded a new song with Brandon for the vinyl edition of Crayons & Angels, what was that like?
Well, it was not so much a song as it was a series of musical phrases that contained sung lyrics. I played some notes on my horn that corresponded decently well with the composition's key signature and overall rhythmical structure. The beauty of it will make you cry, and not just because of the brown note at the end.
Nice! Lastly, what are you listening to these days and how can people learn more about your work?
As a contemporary tubaist who prefers playing on modern music, I maintain a healthy diet of popular music. In recent years I have performed with such artists as Amanda Palmer, The Waterboys, and Melissa Axel. Still, I have a soft spot for the traditional Jazz greats of the '20s and '30s. You can learn more about me at http://www.moderntuba.com. Thanks!
EDITOR'S NOTE: Apologies, we forgot to ask about the French Dip sandwich. Our bad.
Purchase your copy of CRAYONS & ANGELS today, now available in our online store!