The North

Conley says that “The North” is more than a trio of pianos. Our love for music from many genres unites us. Our love of music from many genres binds us. Conley reflects on the experience in the album’s notes. “In a world that albums are often recorded in a few hectic studio days, this was the ultimate dream.” Slow Down is the debut album of The North. It is Hawaiian-grown and a stunning musical representation of the sun, surf, and soil of the Pacific paradise. The band name The North was inspired by their mutual love for Oahu’s North Shore. This is where many of the best surf spots are located. The North features Romain Collin as pianist, Shawn Conley as bassist, and Abe Lagrimas Jr. drummer. The band is keen to incorporate elements from pop, classical, and world music into their improvisational sound. They also love songful melody. Slow Down (This isn’t the Mainland) was released by Dowsett Records on April 15, 2014. It showcases a well-integrated unit that is committed to a cohesive, organic group sound. Conley says that “The North” is more than a trio of piano players. Our love for music from many genres unites us. “We are trying to make music which is as engaging and enjoyable to listen to and as fun for us to produce.” The group and the album were both inspired by Hawaii. Longtime friends Conley and Lagrimas Jr. from Hawaii met Collin, a French-born instrumentalist. The attraction to the islands was strong and three of their friends, who had only been playing informally at that time, were invited by the U.S. mainland to perform a series of public performances for ten days. The impact was both immediate and unexpected. Collin says that the chemistry between Collin and the other two was “stunneling” and the audience felt it. Investors who saw us perform live and were touched by our music, arranged for us back in the following year to play more shows and record an album. The band was made possible by the overwhelming response of the people who saw us play, as well as our musical empathy. Slow Down (This isn’t the Mainland) was recorded during a three-week visit to Hawaii in 2012. The band was working on the album’s music and preparing to record. The trio recorded in the spacious living room of the house, which was made available to them for their sound. The North recorded the recording live, with a few takes, and was joined by Jeremy Loucas (respected engineer). Conley reflects on the experience in the album’s notes. “In a world in which albums are often recorded in a few hectic studio days, this was the ultimate dream.” The majority of Slow Down (This Isn’t The Mainland), composed by Collin and Conley are solid pieces that balance accessibility with invention. Conley states that “we all listen to so many different types of music” and wants all our influences to be reflected in the collective sound. We believe melody is the most important thing for us as a group. This is evident in performances such as “Great Ocean Road”, the Iberian-tinged song “Yann’s Flight”, and “Northern Dreams,” which are all inspired group renditions of “Humpty Dumpty,” “Light Blue”, “Light Blue,” and “Join Us Jackson,” as well as “Blowin’ in the Wind,” each of which has been cleverly reworked to reflect both the individual flavor of the composition as well as the collective imagination of the group. The instrumental prowess of the group is seamlessly woven into every piece. The recording’s vibrancy is enhanced by Collin’s fluidity, Conley’s support lines and impressive solo work, and Lagrimas Jr.’s precise percussion skills. The North’s members are classically trained and have accumulated impressive credits. French-born pianist Collin was born in France. Jon Weber, host of NPR’s Piano Jazz calls him “a visionary composer, an exceptional jazz pianist, and a bright young rising star” in jazz. He attended the Berklee School of Music, and then graduated from Thelonious Monk Institute in 2007 (where he received a full scholarship). Collin has performed with Wayne Shorter and Terence Blanchard. He was also a member of Herbie Hancock and Jimmy Heath. He doesn’t care about showing off his chops but is more interested in telling stories, portraying moods, and developing a disciplined ensemble concept.” Patrick Jarenwattananon, NPR’s A Blog Supreme, said that Collin is an artist with a “highly personal, contemporary vision.” Conley was born in Hawaii and won a position with Honolulu Symphony while he was still high school. He was awarded a Wagoner fellowship and studied with Francois Rabbath, the Parisian bassist. Conley has settled in Brooklyn, New York and has worked with many prominent jazz and classical musicians, including Yo-Yo Ma and Arturo O’Farrill. You can hear him on many soundtracks, including “Moonrise Kingdom”, “True Grit,” as well as “Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close.” He is also a Hawaiian native, and drummer Lagrimas Jr. took part in renowned music programs such Betty Carter’s Jazz Residency, Washington D.C. where he performed his first performance at Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts. Later, he attended the Berklee College of Music. He is a member of The North and also collaborated with Eric Marienthal and Eric Reed. Lagrimas Jr. is also a talented vibraphonist, ukulele player, and an active educator with several musical instruction books to its credit.

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