by Craig D. Lindsey
The Raleigh-based members of the progressive jazz trio known as the Hot at Nights are staying very busy lately.
Guitarist Chris Boerner and drummer/keyboardist Nick Baglio have been performing with local alt R&B outfit the Foreign Exchange to promote that group’s latest album, “Love in Flying Colors.” And saxophonist/woodwinds virtuoso Matt Douglas is preparing to welcome a child in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, the guys have been promoting the second Hot at Nights album, “Try This.” Released a couple of Tuesdays ago, the self-released follow-up to their 2011 debut “Nice Talk” (also self-released) was recorded in July at famed N.C. rocker/producer Mitch Easter’s Fidelitorium Recordings studio in Kernersville.
Albeit a bit groggy at a recent interview in Raleigh, all three men were eager to talk about making the latest record.
“We were going for a different sound on this record that needed a big, live room to get kind of a bigger drum sound,” says Boerner, 35. “And I’d worked in that studio a couple of times and thought it’d be perfect. And we also recorded this one to analog tape, which was something not every studio has.”
They also laid down the basic tracking for the album in under two days.
“With us, the process is we have the music, we rehearsed on it,” says Boerner. “We go in and we don’t play the song more than three times. And it’s like, with our style of music, if we don’t get it in the first three takes, we shouldn’t be recording it in the first place, you know.”
This isn’t the first time the musicians had limited recording time on a project. “I think we did the last one in one day, didn’t we?” asks Baglio, 33. “A day and a half,” responds Boerner. “Yeah, I don’t know if it’s, like, an acceleration,” adds Douglas, 33.
“There are a lot of factors,” says Boerner, explaining their recording process. “There’s the financial factor. We can’t sit around the studio for a week. I mean, if you look at the liner notes of a lot of jazz records, they’re not made over weeks, you know. They’re made in two days, because it’s really about capturing a moment in the studio.”
The men are indeed trying to elevate their sound, something they’ve been tinkering with ever since they began touring with Dutch producer/Foreign Exchange co-founder Nicolay Rook, who recruited the band for his 2011 “Shibuya Session” EP.
“I think, in that experience, our sound sort of evolved a little bit,” says Boerner. “Nick started playing keyboards live with the drums, started adding some drum loops. Matt started using a lot of saxophone loops and, in general, just larger sounds. So, we knew that that was gonna be a big part of the new record.”
This weekend, the Hot at Nights will be celebrating their latest project with a couple of CD-release concerts: Friday in Charlotte and Saturday night in Raleigh at the Pour House Music Hall.
And while they may go in different directions with this new album, the band mates insist that the jazz is always there.
“Our sound has just changed, so maybe your typical person that doesn’t like straight-ahead jazz would like something that we play,” says Baglio. “And we didn’t aim it towards that. It’s just came up with the sound.” Adds Douglas, “We call it jazz because it’s made in the spirit of the way a lot of that music was made.”