When Oregon Space Trail of Doom plays a set under its alter-ego Oregon Space Trail of Jazz, you never quite know where it’s going to go — and neither do they.
Inspired by the likes of Miles Davis, the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers, the Cleveland-based band forgoes the rigid three-minute song structure to instead create a nearly entirely new piece of music on the spot, finding magical instrumental moments through the art of improvisation.
“It’s like a conversation,” says singer-guitarist Nolan Cavano. “You can talk about the same thing twice, but you’re never going to have the exact same take and you can’t recreate that laughter and uproar. That can’t be rehearsed. Those are the magic moments we’re going for.”
It was through improvisation that the band’s new jazz-rock album Jams From the Sun came together. The third installment in its Oregon Space Trail of Jazz trilogy is a 45-minute set broken into three pieces. It was recorded live in January at the frigid warehouse of Cleveland Print Co., the T-shirt shop co-owned by singer-guitarist Ryan Fletterick, without stopping to tune, restarting for mistakes or adding overdubs after the fact.
“You never really know where it’s going to go or how it’s going to sound because the way the bass is sounding in that room or the way your buddy met you with a smile when you walked into his house is all going to give you a different feeling of inspiration,” says Cavano. “We know that it's based around a couple different chord progressions. But we've never played it that way prior. And we'll probably never play it that way again.”
The result is a spacious, free-flowing jam that takes you on a psychedelic journey that starts off strolling, picks up to a sprint as you dodge extraterrestrial lifeforms and then lays you back down and tucks you gently into bed. The band had exercised the overarching idea of the 45-minute song just once or twice at live shows before laying it down on record.
“We figured, you know, let's close out our jazz trilogy, as we call it, with something that's a bit atmospheric, like our name may lend itself to be and see where it goes,” says Cavano.
The album, which was mixed and mastered by bassist Nick Yanosko, was released on BandCamp last week as at a “name your price” cost, with the band hoping those who can afford to support the mostly gigless band will pay what they can and those who are struggling financially may still enjoy the music.
But the band isn’t entirely gigless. Tonight at 7 p.m., it will perform a live set from Lake Affect Studios, the event space on East 25th Street in Cleveland. The virtual concert can be streamed on Lake Affect Studios’ Instagram.
In addition to playing Jams From The Sun, the band will play a new set called “Jams From Andromeda,” which came together during some unexpected downtime and has never been heard by the band’s fans. In late March, the band was supposed to play multiple sets at the famed Austin music festival South By Southwest. Even after the festival was officially shut down due to COVID-19, the band hit the road to play some of the many unsanctioned events that are held at adjacent bars and venues.
But by the time the foolhardy musicians got to Nashville, it decided to heed the call of friends and family urging them to come home. Since then, they’ve also been forced to postpone their release of their next Doom album, which was supposed to be released at an April 11 show at the Winchester Music Tavern.
“We have a lot of emotional intensity right now because we’re supposed to be on the road,” says Cavano. “We were dreaming, waiting, counting down the hours until we could pack the van. So we were in a funny mood when we came up with “Jams from Andromeda,” and that’s what you’ll hear [during the Lake Affect livestream].”
But Austin’s loss is Cleveland’s gain. Tune in at 7 p.m. tonight to see a totally unique set from a band (of brothers, as Cavano would call them) at the top of its improvisational game.
“At our core, we all come from places where we love to play music,” says Cavano. “Any time you're getting a new tune in the works, you know, it's like a new coal that you throw on the fire, and everybody gets excited about it and wants to kind of feel that warmth and cater to it so that it can be as big and roaring as it can be, you know? So that’s where we’re at.”