Instrumentally interesting and more than worth investigating, The Chromatic Effect are the new breed of a Tri-Cities super group.
This summer, the band released its debut CD, Act 1 - No vocals, no showboating, pure musicality and strong songwriting.
Almost like an annual Mid-Michigan event (think 2006's brilliant and world jazzy Bryan Rombalski release or Colieda's soundtrack-ish escapades the previous year), Act 1 offers up a completely different bake of the all-instrumental pie, fusing rock with blues and jazz, with seven of the twelve tracks being all original to boot.
Recorded in David Malinich's Guitar Sound Studio in Coleman, Act 1 is the product of real musicians having fun and making worthwhile music. Filling the gaps with influences ranging from Joe Satriani and David Sanborn to Steve Ray Vaughan, elements from each is there to tickle the ears and refresh the senses. Comprised of Malinich on guitar, tenor saxophonist John Anderson, drummer Mike Williams, keyboardist Steve Najmy, and bassist Mike Landstrom, The Chromatic Effect come from many different, yet local walks of musical life from around the towns.
The Review was able to pin down busy studio man Malinich to answer some questions and get the lowdown on the new sound that's just coming around.
Review: What are the origins of The Chromatic Effect? When did the group start and what sparked this group to make music?
David Malinich: “The group started with me contacting John Anderson who I had known for a few years. John had recorded an instrumental CD at my studio (Guitar Sound Studio in Coleman) and we had played together for a brief time in another group that never really got off the launching pad. John and I are both very into instrumental music in various genres and had a lot of influences just between the two of us (and we) are both writers and had a vision of putting together a group that would be unique, not play the same old material and also allow us to showcase original material.
We also wanted to be part of the instrumental music scene to play music that allowed us to be active on our instruments and play music that was challenging for us and cool and interesting (hopefully) for our listeners.
R: Can you tell me a little bit more about some of the more familiar groups members have played or are playing in?
DM: John is also currently playing with Three Penny Review and years ago played in Blues Controversy. Our keyboard guy, Steve Najmy, played with Revere Park some years ago and our drummer has played with several area bands, including The Laurie Middlebrook Band and The Boogie Monsters. Our bass player is a freshman to playing in a professional group. I hadn't played live in some years myself; mostly I was composing music for film/TV and recording local artists as well as some teaching the past several years.
R: Since you run the studio, was it obvious to make a record and are you planning on any 'shopping around' with it?
DM: I think when we were looking for our keyboard player, I was trying to think of a way to keep the band's energy focused and working to move forward in a positive direction, so doing a CD seemed right at the time. That said we recruited Steve in time to get him on the CD.
We're just selling the CD locally at this point, but I work with a few publishers myself. I may see what the interest level is in our original material at the very least. Right now we are mainly interested in entertaining a Michigan crowd, but as opportunities present themselves, who knows?
R: John Anderson's tracks are totally standout on the album. Can you tell me a little bit about how he presents a song to the band? Did the sole collaboration track Somewhere Else come from a jam or a writing session?
DM: We have a very democratic song presentation process in this group - we basically rotate between the five guys. A guy will bring three songs when it's his turn and the band as a whole will 'vote' on what we think is the best fit for the group and what people will appreciate the most. That said, we tend to give preferential treatment to original material - John has great songs (and) we're happy to do them. Somewhere Else lives up to its name. John was 'somewhere else' when I wrote the rhythm tracks and laid out the vibe and structure. Then he came up with some cool melody lines that complimented the song well. We look forward to many more collaborations in the future.
R: Where do you see The Chromatic Effect fitting into the scene, if at all in the Tri-Cities?
DM: Actually we've been playing some very cool gigs throughout the summer. Our band, being unique in nature as an instrumental band is sort of 'fronted', if you will by the voice of the sax, guitar, and other instruments. As such, we seem to have the most appeal to a listening audience. Hopefully within this realm we do interesting, competent performances to keep the appeal of our listeners, which has been the case so far. We're not a fit for the average 'Mustang Sally' bar in the area, but we have played in some venues that we seem perfect for, such as playing for the Loons in Midland. We also did a cool concert down at Dow Gardens in Midland. We've played for some area clubs that we like and that the room liked us in. We have a diverse enough set that we can sort of tailor our set list to the event, playing everything from some more subdued music in the jazz areas to juiced up blues and rock. We play at a coffee shop regularly that we enjoy a lot also. Good people, good atmosphere - what's better than playing music, right?
R: Is there another album in sight? Have you considered vocalists, or is this strictly for instrumentals only?
DM: Well, we do get asked about vocalists, but not to reiterate what I've already said, I guess my feeling is if its not broke why fix it? We have no plans for another CD just yet, but it won't surprise me if we start thinking about that this winter.
R: Your influences such as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Joe Satriani come on strong in your guitar playing. Is there something you wanted to say in songs such as East Meets West’ and Star Rider - standout examples of very Satriani-meets-quintet music?
DM: Star Rider was a pre-existing song I had written prior to the inception of this group, but "East Meets West" was a song I actually wrote with this group in mind. It really just started with a feeling more than anything - I actually wrote the initial elements for this song not on the guitar, but on the Pizzicato strings you hear in the song and it evolved from there. The Eastern influences in music have always appealed to me. Plus, being a rock guy myself, taking those elements and combining them was very interesting to me and the rest of the group seemed to really gravitate towards the song.
R: How do you get an album such as Act 1 into people's CD players? Is it available for download?
DM: Right now we're just selling it at our performances. Eventually it will be for sale on line and ultimately it will be at some of the spots I have my own CD's, such as I-Tunes.
16th November, 2023