Jason Jennings, a name known to many as the bassist with Jon Oliva's Pain, is to go into the recording studio in early 2013 to work on a new and exciting project pertaining to an album release shortly after.
UK rock entrepreneur Tara Kramer, director of Rapunzel Rock Agency (RapunzelRockAgency on Facebook), is pleased to announce that she will be representing Jason for the US and Europe with this release.
The album and lyrics will be drawn from Jason's often bizarre life experiences. Having lived through a whirlwind upbringing surrounded by his father's theatre and art colleague starting in Long Island, NY in the 1960s, he relocated to Louisville, Kentucky in the 1970s, where his brother taught him how to play the bass guitar. Jason soon realised his calling was the bass and drew his influences from then-breaking bands such as Kiss and Aerosmith. He was always more into the UK blues-inflected rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Humble Pie, The Stones, Bad Company, Detective, Wishbone Ash, and these became his bass influences.
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At the age of 18 he hitch-hiked to Florida to start the dream of being a musician where he worked some overtly menial jobs to gain some financial substance to keep that same dream alive.
It wasn't until 1983 that he was introduced to the Oliva brothers; Jon and Criss, and the rock dream became real. The rest, as you say is history, except he was fighting with the personal trials of a broken marriage during the 1990s behind the glory.
Today, Jason is currently working on his unfinished project that he started in 2004 that had the working title of 'Near Life Experience' which plays off the phrase 'near death experience'. He utilized a corps of nine different players for the eleven different tunes, all in the manner of Steely Dan.
His primary recording line-up in 2004 was: Matt LaPorte - lead guitar, Pat Buffo – vocals, Sonny Harlan – drums, C Finney – piano, whilst Jason has written all of the lyrics, music as well as playing rhythm guitar, and of course bass. New tracks will again follow this process, incorporating the musicians he feels best fit the songs on an individual basis.
I have been privileged to have a sneak preview of, as Jason considers, two of the strongest songs. 'Let It Bang' was written originally in 1984 after Jason first grouped with Jon (Oliva) on some side projects and found out that they shared a common interest in the form of the Beatles, and drew upon the famed 'Let It Be' for a bit of wordplay as far as the title. Mixing it with early Alice Cooper influence musically, lyrically it refers to the hard partying of the Florida music scene in the 1980s. Jon Oliva provides the vocals on this song.
The second key track is 'Head Space,' which was written in 2003 with references to his broken marriage which left him with much uncertainty, introspection, and desperation as a single parent. The conclusion was to move forward and keep going.
Starting off with 'Let It Bang', I can honestly say that vocally if you did not know that Jon Oliva was taking the mic, you might immediately mistake it as Alice himself blasting out the words. From the onset Matt LaPorte delivers blistering solos, whilst the rhythm section deliver and lock in on a nice rocking groove.
Following on with 'Head Space', which is in contrast not as busy as the previous track. It is more laid back with heavy melancholic overtones. Pat's vocals are smoky and dry, with the musical backing being purely mixed with southern bluesy beats. Haunting guitar riffs inserted in the bridges and the ivories being played by C Finney just add to the emotion. You can almost feel yourself being brought to tears with the mood and the lyrics that provide a sense of questioning desperation.
All in all, just after listening to these two tracks, I must say I am intrigued to hear the full album when it's released in 2013, to see if Jason can keep up this high bar that these two tracks have already set.
You can check out Jason here
Many thanks to Tara at Rapunzel Rock Agency for giving me this tender insight to Jason Jennings and his work.