Part of being a musician is networking, and perhaps no one knows that better than local musician Jeremy Boettcher, who can be found several nights a week playing his hard-to-miss upright bass with one musician or another at The Lakely.
He’s done duos, has his own trio, and, as of today, will form a new jazz group, Flat Arp Society, with musician Sean Carey on drums and saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi of Chicago.
“It’s always good to do a bunch of different things because it challenges you to grow and sets up connections for future things,” Boettcher said.
He was touring with Carey’s band S. Carey in April in Chicago when they ran into Laurenzi, who knew Carey from touring together for Bon Iver’s “22, A Million” album.
Laurenzi said he and Carey had talked several times about doing more music together, and it was finally in Chicago when the opportunity presented itself.
“We were just talking afterward and we were like, ‘We should play some music soon,’” Laurenzi said in a phone interview. “It just worked out for these two dates coming up — it happened to work out for everybody.”
Thus, Flat Arp Society was born. The trio will play from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. today and Friday at The Lakely.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how this band takes shape,” Laurenzi said. “I know Sean and Jeremy are great musicians so I know it’s going to be cool, but I’m curious to see what the vibe will be like.”
Aside from one practice Wednesday afternoon, it’ll be their first time playing together. But Boettcher is confident it’ll be a good time.
“You can just tell by someone’s personality, and I already know they’re good musicians, so you know it’ll work out,” he said.
Boettcher also is excited to play his newest instrument, an upright bass that was built for him by Thomas and George Violin (United Kingdom). He’s already named it Violet.
“It’s just a gorgeous, beautiful, really huge instrument. The body is gigantic,” he said. “Anytime I get to play that I’m pretty happy.”
Laurenzi said they are playing some of his originals mixed with jazz standards and music by Thelonious Monk, a well-known jazz pianist in the 1940s through 1970s. He said the three appreciate Monk’s music because it allows for improvisation.
Though they only had one rehearsal beforehand, he said having the opportunity to play two nights in a row gives them more flexibility and a chance to work their dynamic a bit more.
“It’ll be coming out of the jazz tradition, but we’ll be doing our own thing with it,” Laurenzi said. “We might just make some stuff up too. Who knows? We’ve got time to stretch out a little bit, which will be nice.”
It is that improvisation aspect Boettcher enjoys about jazz music, especially playing with confident musicians.
Though they do practice, he said many jazz standards leave room for improvisation. As long as you know what’s coming, you can have a little fun with it.
“It’s like really advanced Mad Libs or something,” Boettcher said. “There’s a blank, and there are certain things you can’t do but a lot of things you can do.”
Which means, in this context, today’s show may not be exactly the same as Friday’s.
That’s another draw for Carey, who said in a text message he is “excited to make new music in this context.”
As for the name Flat Arp Society? Boettcher said the group was throwing out name possibilities and Carey was coming up with “some really weird and kind of ridiculous” things.
So, Boettcher threw “Flat Earth Society” into the mix — after seeing news that “Mad” Mike Hughes, a man in California, in March successfully built a rocket to attempt to prove Earth is flat. Hughes’ rocket launch was trending on social media for a time, and Boettcher thought it’d be a funny name.
Carey took it one step further by changing “Earth” to “Arp,” short for an arpeggiator, Boettcher said, which is a function on a synthesizer that turns notes into an arpeggio. Boettcher added there are some songs on S. Carey’s “Hundred Acres” that use the function.
“(It) was just a stream of consciousness idea,” Carey said via text. “A play on words on people that believe the earth is flat.”
With Carey touring and Laurenzi living so far away, Laurenzi and Boettcher both said they hope the group will perform together again — but they can’t make any promises. Even so, Laurenzi said performances will be “rare,” so he encourages people not to wait.
“I hope it continues,” Laurenzi said. “But I would say you should definitely check it out now.”
Contact reporter: 715-833-9214, firstname.lastname@example.org, @KatherineMacek on Twitter