The East West Quintet may be Brooklyn-based, but three of the band’s five members are from San Diego and migrated east, hence the band name.
“My parents are both members of the San Diego Symphony,” says bassist Benjamin Campbell, who spent last month at the La Jolla Playhouse playing with the onstage band in B.D. Wong’s Herringbone. Keyboardist Mike Cassedy’s father is a professor at UCSD, and guitarist Simon Kafka grew up in San Diego.
“Our music falls between genres, somewhere between jazz and indie rock,” says Benjamin. “We started as twentysomething jazz musicians who were burnt out on jazz and felt more like rocking. So we quit being dogmatic and started incorporating all the other musical influences we’ve had, all the way back to San Diego.”
Simon describes the band’s music as “instrumental rock music with improvisation.” Mike says, “Think Art Blakey meets Radiohead.”
Touring behind their new album Vast, the East West Quintet hits Dizzy’s downtown on Wednesday, September 23.
WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?
Benjamin: “Grizzly Bear, Veckatimest. Amazing singing and innovative orchestrations, with a ton of great bass sounds. I love how a track will start in an extremely pared-down, minimal presentation and evolve into a majestically huge emotive expression.”
Simon: “The Who, Live at Leeds (Deluxe Edition). I love their group sound because it’s really powerful and intense, especially live. They play Tommy from start to finish without stopping, and it’s incredible.”
Mike: “Aretha Franklin, Rare and Unreleased. It’s great to hear Aretha singing on something that was never meant to make it onto an album. It’s full of risks, mistakes, and a whole lot of character.”
MOST VISITED WEBSITES?
1. icanhascheezburger.com. “Anthropomorphized cats are really funny.”
2. bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com. “Snobby is not only a hilarious critic of many cycling affectations, but he’s also a great writer.”
3. craigslist.org “What can I say? I love a good deal. I’ve purchased espresso machines, basses, effects pedals, bikes, furniture, and more.”
1. talkingpointsmemo.com. “It’s a great news site and blog.”
2. thedailyshow.com. “I love watching that show!”
1. hulu.com. “I don’t have a TV, but I still like to watch TV.”
WORST MOVIE EVER?
Benjamin: “Dario Argento’s The Mother of Tears. This might not count because this movie was so bad it was good. I love the mom throwing the baby off of the bridge, as well as Italian actors with questionable training trying to sell the script in English.”
Simon: “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Indiana Jones must have Nazi villains to be awesome. They should have learned that lesson after Temple of Doom.”
Mike: “The Island of Doctor Moreau. It breaks my heart to see Marlon Brando play a piano duet with a midget on a miniature piano.”
BEST VIDEO GAME?
Benjamin: “Super Mario Brothers 3. It never gets old, and the addition of the frog suit was a real boon to the game.”
Simon: “Occasionally I’ll play some Tetris. It’s a classic.”
Mike: “Super Mario World for Super Nintendo. For me, this was the apex of video games. It was all downhill from there.”
BEST THING YOU’VE EVER WON?
Benjamin: “When I was 11, I won two rose tarantulas from the San Diego Herpetological Society raffle.”
Simon: “I won the sixth-grade presidential election at Dewey Elementary School.”
Mike: “In the summer of ’89, I won a giant stuffed Gumby at the Del Mar Fair.”
NAME YOUR POISON...
Benjamin: “Cappuccino made by our own personal in-band barista and trumpet player Phil Rodriguez, my coffee mentor.”
Simon: “I enjoy a cold beer from time to time.”
Mike: “A good whiskey on the rocks.”
BIGGEST DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE BROOKLYN AND SAN DIEGO MUSIC SCENES?
Benjamin: “The sheer quantity of musicians and bands [in Brooklyn]. There are so many amazing musicians in my neighborhood alone. It’s generally really hard to hear a shitty band.”
Simon: “I would say that the music in Brooklyn might lean toward being more experimental and not nearly as laid-back.”
Mike: “Brooklyn is so flooded with musicians that you really have to find your voice to be heard.”
See this week’s Blurt by David Stampone for more on the East West Quintet.