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Mark Egan Releases "Dreaming Spirits" with Arjun Bruggeman & Shane Theriot

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Dreaming Spirits is a World Jazz group led by Grammy award winning musicians, bassist Mark Egan and tabla player Arjun Bruggeman featuring special guest guitarist, Shane Theriot.
On this duo project Dreaming Spirits, bassist-composer Mark Egan joins forces with tabla-percussionist Arjun Bruggeman along with guest guitarist Shane Theriot for a set of music that is at once meditative and invigorating, incorporating drone tones and ambient textures into a compelling world music mix while also leaving room for dynamic improvisation and in-the-moment dialoguing between the players. “I feel like I’ve always heard this music and I’ve always wanted to record this type of project” says the acclaimed bassist whose distinctive sound on his Pedulla fretless electric basses has made him a world renowned musician with a mastery of many styles of music. “This music is an entrance into more ambient sonic spaces and I’m pleased that we have created some calming music to offset this hectic world that we live in.”

The exotic Eastern percussion grooves and textures heard on Dreaming Spirits are supplied by Arjun Bruggeman’s tabla, frame drum and tone drums. Arjun has recorded and performed with artists such as Jason Mraz, Belinda Carlisle, Jon Anderson, Trevor Hall, Robert Bly, Michael Franti, Hu Dost, Snatam Kaur and Shyamdas.

Egan explains that he met world percussion and session recording artist Bruggeman in 2008 when they were both recruited to record and tour with master Kirtan singer-chanter Krishnas Das. “We had an immediate musical connection and we’ve had this wonderful musical dialogue ever since,” says Egan. “We’ve been talking about doing a creative project together since we first met and finally decided to organize sessions at my studio which were the genesis of this project.” Together these two kindred spirits reveal rare chemistry in their duets on Dreaming Spirits like “Morning Light,” “The In Between,” “Waking Spirits” and “Joy Ride.”

Rounding out the chemistry on ten other melodic modal jams is guitarist Shane Theriot, a native of New Orleans who has played with the Neville Brothers and Dr. John and currently is the musical director for Hall & Oates and for the video series Daryl’s Place, hosted by Daryl Hall. Theriot’s acoustic guitar adds another layer of intrigue to atmospheric numbers like “Mombossa,” “C Drone Expanion,” “Framonics” and the spacious title track while he flaunts stinging blues-tinged electric guitar licks on numbers like “Village Call,” “Wave Motion,” “Canyon Walk,” “Spirit Blues” and the lively closer, “When Spirits Dance.” And he layers on a touch of lap steel on “Mombossa.” Said Egan of Theriot’s contribution on Dreaming Spirits, “I sent Shane some of the music that Arjun and I had recorded and he really did his homework,” Egan recalls. “He came to the session with a notebook filled with different altered tunings that he had prepared for the songs which gave each composition a distinctive guitar sound.”

A member of the original Pat Metheny Group of the mid ‘70s, Egan’s extensive credits also include recordings with the Gil Evans Orchestra, Sting, John McLaughlin, John Abercrombie, Larry Coryell, Pat Martino, Joan Osborne, Sophie B. Hawkins, Roger Daltrey and the Duran Duran off-shoot group Arcadia. His last two releases as a leader on his own Wavetone label—2014’s About Now and 2015’s Direction Home—reunited him with drummer and longtime collaborator Danny Gottlieb, with whom he co-leads the group Elements.

But Dreaming Spirits is unlike anything the veteran bassist has done before in his illustrious career. “This recording draws from ideas from all of my past recordings, especially the more ambient moments playing 4 and 8 string fretless basses,” says Egan. Along with his melodic, singing fretless bass lines, Egan adds layers of what sound like evocative synth washes but are actually triggered from his basses using various electronic effects units. “Everything that you hear on this CD that sounds like a keyboard pad or a synth or organ, is bass-generated,’ he explains. “I call them bass waves.” And there is even an all-important element of groove tying up these entrancing tracks. Indeed, you can hear a quote from Wilson Pickett’s “Funky Broadway,” a favorite R&B groove of Egan’s one-time bass teacher, Jaco Pastorius, pop up in his playing on “Mombossa.” As Mark says, “The music always has to have a thread of the groove happening throughout. That was something that obviously Jaco had intuitively in his playing and that’s something I also feel strongly about.”

Regarding the use of ambient textures throughout Dreaming Spirits, Egan acknowledged his longstanding interest in blending East and Western music coming to fruition on Dreaming Spirits. “I’ve always been interested in Indian music from the first time I heard Ravi Shankar in high school and later, Shakti with John McLaughlin. I haven’t formally studied traditional Indian music with odd meters and ragas but I’ve always been attracted to the aura of the music drone and the fretless bass is sympathetic to that sound zone. The Pedulla fretless bass also sonically compliments the low Bayan drum of Arjun”

Says Egan, “Arjun and I wanted to make a record that had depth and intensity and also that was meditative and relaxing. I think there’s a sincerity to this music that allowed us to communicate from spirit to spirit.” Whether it’s the melodic grooves, hypnotic drones or the stellar musicianship and interplay, Dreaming Spirits will attract listeners that enjoy multidirectional adventurous music.

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