LITTLE JACK MELODY
387-1562, fax 383-4030,
2417 N. LOCUST
"Bandwagons are just too narrow for this band; I’m not planning to jump on anything anytime soon," claims Little Jack Melody. Incorporating elements of swing, European cabaret, tango, samba, polka, waltz, theater, and black humor, among others, Little Jack’s musical world is truly indescribable, at least succinctly. With a cataclysmic ensemble of jazz-rooted musicians and a body of songs celebrating everything from co-dependency to Frank Sinatra as Creator, the slouching ennui of the century’s end to Freud’s apocryphal last words, the megalomania of the Me Generation to a eulogy for Jack Kerouac, Melody is a true original.
Appropriating his nom du plume from an arcane Beat Generation footnote of a character, ("sounded like a name with treble clefs and capped teeth," muses Little Jack), Melody’s band of Young Turks originally included such seldom-seens as tuba and harmonium. In 1997, "phase two" began with tuba being replaced by upright bass, and piano and Hammond pushing the harmonium into the back seat. "I think some people refused to take us seriously with harmonium and tuba," laments Little Jack. "Sort of a nascent rubber chickenism that sometimes pulled focus from the music."
Melody’s inspirations have included, at various moments, Brecht/Weill, Nino Rota, Randy Newman, Tom Waits, Stephen Sondheim, Carla Bley, circuses, Edward Hopper, Raymond Carver and Hubert Selby Jr., and especially "...the cabaret phenomena in Europe in the 20’s and 30’s... the possibilities of song-as-commentary, whether political, social, or cultural."
my charmed life, Little Jack Melody’s third CD, was released by Carpe Diem Records in August, ‘97. It has attracted favorable press and airplay on triple A and college radio across the country. On the Blank Generation, Melody’s debut, received glowing notices from such publications as Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, Esquire, and Musician, and was a Jackpot! pick in CMJ; Melody was also interviewed by Noah Adams for a feature on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. World of Fireworks, the band’s second CD, was unleashed in mid-’94. A live album, Noise and Smoke, was recorded in August of ‘98; it will be released in August of ‘99.
The present line-up of Young Turks is Jeff Novack, upright bass, drummer Bill Shupp, Brad Williams on piano and harmonium, and saxophonist Jeff Fort; all are current members or veterans of the renowned University of North Texas lab bands. "These Turks are tremendous players and genuine helluvaguys. They keep raising the bar on me- it’s intimidating."
The band continues to tour, with travels ranging from Michigan to Florida in ‘98. In October of ‘98, Melody contributed music to 2 theatrical productions: in Los Angeles, Louis Broome’s Texarkana Waltz (Circle X Theater Company), and in Dallas, Our Endeavors Theater Company’s The Ultra-Happy, Super-Sad, Mega-Variety Revue.
In September of ’96, Little Jack Melody and His Young Turks went to Seattle to perform Melody’s score for the world premiere of love is a place, a theatrical piece based on the life and work of e.e. cummings, written by The Firesign Theatre’s David Ossman. Melody’s other forays into musical theater include Ft. Worth’s Hip Pocket Theatre’s Every Man His Own Football, Hubcaps Afire Over Hollywood, Nightmare Alley, starring Tyrone Power, the un-produced Helmet of Justice, and Alabama Songs (Workhouse Theater, New York.)
Past laurels include the Dallas Observer award for "Best Avant-Garde/Experimental" (‘94, ‘95), showcase performances at SXSW, New Music Seminar, CMJ Music Marathon, and festival dates including Seattle’s Bumbershoot, Toronto’s Harbourfront, Birmingham’s City Stages, Nashville’s Summer Lights, and Atlanta’s Midtown Music Festival, among others.