One on One With Sunny Daze

sunny1An electrifying fusion of original style and diverse personalities, it is the natural chemistry of Sunny Daze that defines its very essence.  The octet, which has been captivating fans for nearly a decade, blends the spirituality of John Coltrane, the rhythmic energy of Parliament, the exploratory element of Miles Davis’ electric period and the soul of James Brown.  Founded by guitarist Jesse Urmey, its members delight the listeners’ auditory psyche with pieces that are sometimes explosive, sometimes understated, and always soulful.  Expressive, jazzy tunes evoke memories of such enduring legends as Stevie Wonder and Sly and the Family Stone.  With raw, edgy cuts creating an intriguing palette of jazz, Latin, and groove-intensive beats, Sunny Daze provides soulful garnish to satisfy a funk-happy meal.
Was hip hop always your thing?
No, music was always our thing, and hip hop is another great genre of music. Our Turntablist, Chris Lawand aka DJ C Reality, has been a hip hop DJ since the beginning of the hip hop movement.  He is ‘official’ in regards to Hip Hop and it has always been his thing.  It was his idea to do the Hip Hop remakes using the original MC’s. We all like hip hop and were open to the idea, but it was Kenny Summit, Owner of Good For You Records (our label), who had the idea to do a remake of a classic by each artist and then have the MC’s write lyrics to one of our songs. Chris contacted most of the MC’s and GFY records financed it and is releasing them as limited edition 7″ custom vinyl records. I think we were all hoping to do this type of collaboration at some point in our career.  The time was right for us to try something different and GFY signed us and made it happen.  
All the members of Sunny Daze are very open minded about music. We are all influenced by multiple genres and artists.  I think hip hop was very influential to us because most of us listened to a lot of hip hop during our “formative listening years” in high school. We were lucky enough to be sunny2listening to hip hop in the late 80’s into the early 90’s when hip hop was in it’s golden age. I feel like this is when the art form was in it’s true form and when artists still had lots of control of their product. Plus artists had a definite message pertinent to social change. You know, before corporate greed took over and the suits understood how to replicate and package it for world wide distribution. 
It was a great time in music all together and we were all soaking it in. I grew up listening to so much great music, hip hop as well as alternative and classic rock, metal, punk, & jazz. That is what I really admire about Chris Lawand/ Dj C Reality. Even though he is a hardcore scratch DJ, he is a resident bad ass when it comes to knowledge of music. He knows all the samples, all the records, and he is a virtual musicologist.   
What does it mean to you?
Hip hop is yet another invention of African American music, in the great tradition of jazz and blues. It is inclusive of all pertinent elements of music from jazz and blues, such as ‘call and response’ and ‘improvisation’. In Sunny Daze we are all Jazz musicians and we see hip hop as an extension of the jazz tradition. The early hip hop producers listened to all sorts of music but sampled lots of jazz and funk from the greats, Ahmad Jamal, McCoy Tyner, Ron Carter, and of course the most sampled artist James Brown, just to name a few. It just makes sense to have an open mind about music, and Jazz and Hip Hop seem to belong together just like PB&J.
How did you start collaborating with such great MCs? (Grand Puba, Artifacts, etc.)
DJ C Reality knows a lot of these guys from former groups and from his work on WBAI as a DJ on the longest running Hip Hop show “The Underground Railroad”. Some of these MC’s we meet through friend of a friend but all of them seem to be interested in an 8 piece band backing them up.  In an age of mp3 DJ’s, I think we bring a lot to the table in comparison to playback. We are a tight 8 piece original groove band with our own original sound, and that is an attractive flavor for most MC’s. Most producers that MC’s work with are one man shows making beats on their computers using pre made loops. We bring more musical interaction, an original sound, and the power of an 8 piece band.
Tell me more about the upcoming album and what your fans should expect.
Our new album is an all instrumental album, consisting of 14 original songs written by all the members of our group. The main tracks were recorded back in February in two days playing time. We recorded this one with Steve Jankowski at his studio, Jankland, mostly because he had the sunny3right number of isolation booths to accommodate our large ensemble. We have finished the overdubs and we are going into mixing stages now. We hope to have it out on digital sources by April or May. Maybe sooner if we are lucky. These tunes are all original and each one offers a unique sound from our band.  Even though the tracks were mostly electric, the album has quite an acoustic and organic sound to it. In the meantime we are also working on some new music with Masta Ace, possibly Buckshot and Cee knowledge, and a couple other MC’s. We hope to do more live stuff with these artists too.  Our releases featuring the Artifacts are supposed to come out in February of 2014.   These releases are my favorite of the Hip Hop collaborations so far. We remade “Wrong side” and they wrote lyrics to one of our favorite instrumentals. I remember that as soon as El started to rap on that track it sounded like an instant classic. That is always a good sign when you feel that way as you are recording. That song is called “The Game” and definitely is one of my favorites. Keep up with new info at our website and like us on Facebook to keep up with what we are doing.  

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