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Caleb Quaye releases Out of the Blue

Caleb Quaye
Caleb Quaye
Michael Sirota

For a certain type of fan of jazz fusion, there really is only one golden era. Caleb Quaye's current release harkens back to that time and place. A great collection of new compositions, Out of the Blue is sure to pick up new fans as well as please the current fans Caleb Quaye has picked up over the last thirty five years. One of those fans is the legendary Eric Clapton. During a television with David Letterman some years ago, the host asked the legendary blues rocker, “So what’s it like to be the best guitar player in the world?” Clapton replied, “I’m not. Caleb Quaye is!

”The formation of Caleb Quaye And The Faculty was purely organic. “There was seriously no grand plan in making this group come together,” says Quaye. “Our name came from the fact that Charles, Doug and I were part of the music faculty at Life Pacific College. I got a call one day from a woman in the film department at Biola University, asking me if I could put a band together to play an annual music conference there. Charles and Doug agreed first, and then I brought in Pee Wee, who I’ve known and worked with for 30 years. We booked a rehearsal, had a great time playing the event and thought it would be cool to get together and play in a less formal setting sometime. We set up shop at a coffee house in San Dimas, California and began playing strictly for our own enjoyment. “
“I started writing songs and the jazz rock instrumentals began flowing effortlessly,” he adds. “It’s a style that has emerged naturally over the years, and this new band situation was a wonderful opportunity to play the kind of heartfelt music I have always wanted to play. Most of my writing comes out of riffs I discover at practice sessions. I’ve played guitar for 50 years now and it’s natural that many of those internalized influences come out in my playing. Suddenly a riff or chord sequence pops up, or maybe a groove comes to me, and my job is to catch it as it’s flying by!”

Caleb Quaye And The Faculty decided to lay down four original tracks with all the musicians playing live in the same room at Hill’s home studio in Pasadena. When those sessions went well, Hill suggested they do more tunes, so Quaye went back to “his cave” and quickly emerged with charts for five additional songs, which the band also cut live; the only overdubs were a few Hammond B-3 parts and synth strings. Of the nine tracks on Out Of The Blue, the guitarist’s personal favorites are the spiritually inspired “Ask And You Shall Receive,” a sensual, hypnotic piece he dubs a “mix of mild be-bop and funk,” and “Just Passing Through,” which features a cool, melodic vibe and relaxed 7/4 time signature. It was inspired by his belief that life is a journey, that where we end up is more important than how we started, and that the earth is not our ultimate home.

Quaye’s longtime association with Elton John, which includes participation on classic EJ recordings like Empty Sky, Elton John, Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across The Water, Rock Of The Westies and Blue Moves, ensured that his own musical journey is also a collective part of rock history. He met Sir Elton originally when the two of them were part of Long John Baldry’s backing band Bluesology, when Elton was known as Reg Dwight. When Bluesology disbanded in 1967, Quaye released a single under the artist name Caleb and later played guitar with Elton at live concerts in the London area. In 1970, Quaye formed Hookfoot with three musicians who had also backed Elton’s earliest live shows; Hookfoot’s self-titled debut was a mix of rock and jazz, while their follow-up Good Times A-Comin’ was a more straight ahead rock effort.

After several more releases, the band disbanded in 1974 and Quaye stayed in the U.S. to become a session musician. All told, he played off and on for more than ten years with Elton both as a session player and later, a full band member, appearing on all of his earliest recordings through 1972. He became a full-time recording and touring member of the Elton John Band in 1975-76. In 1978, Quaye and two other members of this band, Kenny Passarelli and Roger Pope joined Hall & Oates. In the early ‘80s, Quaye shifted gears musically and spiritually and began incorporating faith into the songs he wrote, recorded and performed. Now, after spending several years performing inspirational music, he’s excited about making his long-awaited return to the jazz scene with Out Of The Blue.



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