Joe’s Record Paradise to host professional jazz band Saturday

D.C.-based jazz ensemble set to perform for hometown fans

by Cara Hedgepeth Staff writer

Musician and composer Charlie Barnett says he was born in the wrong era.

“I was born out of time,” says Barnett. “I think I should have been Henry Mancini.”

An award-winning film composer, Barnett is also a founding member of the six-piece jazz ensemble, Chaise Lounge, performing Saturday afternoon at Joe’s Record Paradise in Silver Spring.

Barnett, who is a talented pianist but primarily plays guitar for Chaise Lounge, says he’s heard the band’s sound described as “post-modern lounge.” But Barnett says he prefers a slightly more comprehensive description.

“It basically sounds like pop music played by jazz musicians, recorded in 1962 at Capitol Records Studio,” he says.

Saturday will be a homecoming of sorts for the six musicians — Barnett is joined by vocalist Marilyn Older, drummer Tommy Barrick, saxophonist Gary Gregg, trombonist John Jensen and bassist Pete Ostle — who all hail from the metro area.

“When we get to play locally, it’s really fun,” says Barnett, who’s lived in Bethesda for 20 years. “We hardly ever get to.”

“It’s cool to be in Silver Spring,” adds Barrick, who calls the city home. “If I wasn’t bringing my drums, I’d probably ride my bike.”

In addition to its convenience, Gregg says playing close to home means the band gets the opportunity to see a room full of familiar faces.

“It’s like meeting old friends,” says Gregg who lives in Arlington, Va. “It’s people who have sort of followed us over the years.”

The group recently honored its hometown roots with the cover art of their latest album, “Insomnia,” featuring local favorite and Bethesda cornerstone, the Tastee Diner.

Saturday’s gig will feature songs from “Insomnia,” which, like Chaise Lounge records before it, is available as a CD and in vinyl.

“There’s nothing like vinyl,” says Barnett. “It’s just the sound everybody craves, including me.”

“A Very Chaise Lounge Christmas,” out Nov. 1, and featuring reworked carols, original songs and covers of holiday classics, will also be available as an old-school record.

“There’s a certain kind of organic excitement about having a record made,” says Barnett. “Making a record is so much more labor intensive than making a CD. … It’s an artistic object more than CDs can ever hope to be.”

It was more than 10 years ago that Barnett and lead singer Older recruited Barrick, Gregg, Jensen and Ostle to form Chaise Lounge.

“I found a group of my favorite studio musicians,” says Barnett. “The next thing you know we have a band and we have gigs. How fun is that?”

“When we came together everything click[ed],” adds Gregg. “It was like we’d known each other our entire lives. It’s just like a great fitting pair of shoes.”

Despite their busy schedules and commitments to other ensembles — Barrick also plays with the Radio King Orchestra and the Swingin’ Lincolns, and Jensen is a member of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra — the members of Chaise Lounge have managed to make this ensemble a top priority.

“Chaise Lounge always comes first,” says Gregg.

“Even though I’m busy, Chaise Lounge is my main group,” adds Barrick. “I will pretty much put it in front of everything.”

Jensen says the experience playing with other ensembles actually benefits Chaise Lounge’s music.

“Playing with different musicians and different bands gives you something to take back to Chaise Lounge,” he says.

While Barnett says experiences like the one with Chaise Lounge are often expected to “run their course,” the members of the band have remained dedicated to monthly rehearsals.

Jensen credits Chaise Lounge’s longevity to the chemistry between band mates.

“Nobody’s tense,” says Jensen. “So many times in the music business people are tense and that’s a poison to the creative spirit. But there’s a shared element of fun, shared element of joy.”

“You become like a family,” adds Barrick. “I only choose to play in bands that are going somewhere. Everybody is in this because it is moving somewhere.”

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