Baton Rouge's Captain Greenalready proved it has the funk. On its new release, the band is stretching into another one of its favorite genres — jazz.
Captain Green is known for its virtuoso playing and high-energy instrumental music. Though the new record still features intricate compositions, the band wanted to ease back a bit for a calmer aesthetic.
“The last [album] was a psychedelic tour de force,” keyboardist and band leader Ross Hoppe said. "There’s some heavy-hitting stuff on this one, too, but we’re going for a more chill vibe and showing our jazz influence more.”
The band draws evenly from two primary wells of inspiration: Miles Davis and Frank Zappa.
“I have two tattoos — one is Davis and one is Zappa,” Hoppe said. “What made Miles so good was that it wasn’t just him; it was a roster of superstar pioneers on their instruments. What Zappa did was compose classical or opera for a rock band. I like to think we’re in between the crazy acid jazz and the prog-rock.”
The jazz vibe on the new record goes further than song composition. In the studio for only a few days last fall, the band wanted to record in a live-performance style.
“We wanted to record it more like old jazz records where they’d strategically place a couple mics in a room and play a couple takes to get the song," bassist Robert Kling said. "It gives it a live, organic feeling.”
This is the first Captain Green studio recording to feature a guitarist, after having Grant Hudson join the band in 2014.
“Having someone as good as Grant on guitar definitely makes my job easier,” Hoppe said. “I get to play less, and that frees me up in a different way.”
Hoppe writes most of the music (sometimes with trumpeter Dave Melancon) with live performances in mind.
“I write parts for everybody but myself, so live I do different stuff every time just by improvising and reacting to the energy of the crowd,” Hoppe said.
Saxophonist Kevin McMann also recorded with Captain Green for the first time after joining last year. Melancon and drummer Chris “Katt” Lee returned to the studio with the band to record “Jazz Noise.” Drummer Michael Harris plays on three of the album’s tracks.
In a band with so much sound and so many solos, Kling said there is a specific task onstage.
“Everything has to be intentional — you can push without playing tons of stuff,” Kling said. “There’s a lot of sound potential onstage, so we try to guide it, as well as back the other guys up.”
Although proud of the new studio release, Kling and Hoppe both consider Captain Green to be its boldest during live performances.
“It’s how we’ve learned to work as a unit,” Kling said. “We always have the option to do anything live, and it’s different every time — and that’s the jazz tradition."
Captain Green CD release party, featuring Levee Daze
When:Saturday. Doors open at 8 p.m. The show starts at 9 p.m.
Where: Varsity Theatre, 3353 Highland Road, Baton Rouge
Cost:$12 in advance, $15 at the door.