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Ensemble steps out of comfort zone for a Collective Reaction

August 28, 2014

niu.57@osu.edu
Press photo of Wes Perry and Jason Deran. Credit: Courtesy of A.Deran Photography

Press photo of Wes Perry and Jason Deran.
Credit: Courtesy of A. Deran Photography

In an attempt to shine light on local music, The Lantern’s “Columbus’ Own” is a weekly series that will profile a new Columbus band every week. 

The term “college band,” might bring images of a garage rock band to mind. Columbus band Collective Reaction, however, aims to break the mold with their modern jazz and funk sound.

Ohio State alumnus Jason Deran and fifth-year in jazz studies Wes Perry founded the six-piece instrumental band in January and serve as its co-leaders.

Perry said they play a genre that can be found running through other styles of music.

“(Jazz) is becoming an integral part of every music out there today. There is some jazz influence whether you realize it or not, which is super cool,” Perry, who plays the saxophone, said. “To all those who say ‘jazz is dead,’ no, it’s not. How can something be dead if it’s in everything?”

The group proved it’s not dead and released an album “Breaking Ground” on June 13. 

Deran and Perry each composed four songs for the album, which took only two days to record. Trumpeter Deran said the two take control over their respective compositions, so there is not too much leadership overlap.

Deran said the band entered the studio with the composition ready and recorded everything live. 

“Live recording is very important in jazz. The interaction and connection between the members of the band is what is most important. The live connection all at once just can’t be replaced with individual tracking,” Deran said.

Drummer Brian Ellerman, a fourth-year in jazz studies, said he sees jazz as a conversation. “We will all complement what the other is playing and give our own ideas,” he said.

He said the controlled improvisation of the rhythmic section, which includes bass, drums and keys, allows the soloist to shine. 

Mark Rubinstein, a Grammy-nominated audio engineer mixed “Breaking Ground” for Collective Reaction. 

“They work extraordinarily well together and are very autonomous,” Rubinstein said. “I’ll set them up and leave them alone so they can run their session, and they work magically.”

Rubinstein credits the success of the band to its ability to have fun while maintaining high work ethic. “(When they are recording) they are disciplined and have a great time at the same time, which is not easy to do,” he said.

Working together as a band seems to have taught its members crucial skills that benefit both within and outside of music.

“Ohio State doesn’t offer this kind of hands on, being a leader, sort of experience,” Perry said. “In the band setting, every member of the band is making the final decisions.”

Ellerman said playing with Collective Reaction has pushed him outside of his comfort zone as a musician. He said he has learned a lot from watching the leadership of Deran and Perry. 

“Coming from a backseat perspective, to be led by your peers, it’s really easy to work with,” he said. 

Even though band members are not all in the same city, they find time to compose and play shows together, though the membership isn’t always consistent.

“People come and go all the time. It’s both refreshing and frustrating,” Ellerman said. 

The uncertainty of their situation is something that Ellerman said makes it hard to make long-term plans, so they instead focusing on the present.

“Who knows where we will be in a year?” he said. “We will see what the future holds for us.”

Collective Reaction is set to host its album release party at Brothers Drake Meadery & Bar at 26 E. 5th Ave. on Sept. 18 at 9 p.m. The show is free and open to all ages.


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