The Hub Kings Bring Original Music and a Hammond
Organ to Saltwaters Seafood
Thursday, May 20, 2010
-Megan Sullivan |
Staff Writer | Timeout Magazine
WHEN soul jazz trio the Hub Kings sets up for a gig, people
sometimes ask, quizzically, Who’s your bass player? Founded by New
Brunswick open mike veterans, the instrumental group consists of
Jonathan Tristram on the Hammond organ, “Bongo” Dave Smela on
drums and percussion, and Kevin Hildebrandt on guitar. Once the
Hub Kings start playing, however, the audience catches on to the
fact that Mr. Tristram tackles the bass line.
Hammond organ produces a different sound than a keyboard,
especially the way it’s played in a jazz combo. “The left hand is
playing the bass lines and the right hand is either doing a melody
or it’s comping chords, almost like it’s taking two
responsibilities,” says Mr. Tristram, who teaches science in
Metuchen elementary and middle schools. “It definitely gives the
music a certain sound.”
Developed in the late 1950s, and perhaps the most popular in
the mid- to late- ‘60s, soul jazz was a development of hard bop,
with origins in blues and gospel. The Hub Kings’ members write
music that draws on a number of different influences, from the
classic style of Booker T and the MG's to more contemporary artists
like Medeski, Martin & Wood. “We do mostly original music, but we
certainly pay homage to the classic songs of the jazz organ
combos,” Mr. Tristram says.
As soul jazz developed, other sounds started to weave their way
into the style, such as popular, rock and funk, which the
instrumental trio also incorporates into its tunes. “So in one
minute we may be doing something that’s more of a bossa,
Latin-style piece, to something that’s more straight-up blues
shuffle style, to things that are more funk based,” Mr. Tristram
says. “It’s a mixture of things, which I think just makes it a lot
of fun for us.”
The Hub Kings will perform a set of mainly straight-ahead jazz
at Saltwaters Seafood in Somerset May 22. The fresh seafood and
Southern-style cuisine restaurant offers live music every weekend.
The trio also will perform at the Downtown Freehold Gazebo Series
and raised in the suburbs of New York City, Mr. Tristram began his
piano studies at age 8. When he reached senior year of high
school, Mr. Tristram picked up a guitar that had been lying
untouched for years in the family attic. The guitar quickly became
his new musical passion. “I find the relationship between the
hands and the strings pretty key,” he says. Although he still
loves the guitar, Mr. Tristram says it’s nice to return to the
piano and the Hammond organ, in both composing songs and playing
with the Hub Kings.
Mr. Tristram’s musical interests expanded to include the world
of studio engineering and producing, and he graduated from the
Manhattan Recording Workshop in 2000. Mr. Tristram does the
initial writing for the Hub Kings in his recording studio, coming
up with a rough demo of how he envisions the song will flow.
”The exciting part about collaborating with Dave and Kevin is
that the songs, after a while, they really take on their own
life,” he says. “If I were to just do the creation of the song on
my own and ultimately record it as that, it wouldn’t have quite
the same life as playing that out over time and seeing how the
Much of the influence behind Mr.
Tristram’s compositions comes from collecting and listening to
jazz records, many that are out of print, that he
finds at places like the Princeton Record Exchange, Vintage
Vinyl Records and Curmudgeon Records. In particular, he cites
musician Jimmy Smith, who helped popularize the Hammond organ,
as the artist who turned him on to soul jazz.
”I remember a day many, many years ago — it was a dark night
and I was driving and listening to WBGO and Jimmy Smith’s
10-minute-plus piece called ‘The Sermon’ came on,” he recalls.
“I got home and the piece was still playing, so I quickly ran
into the house, and turned on WBGO to find out who it was.” The
song opened Mr. Tristram’s ears to a new style of music, and
it’s stuck with him ever since.
The Hub Kings will
perform at Saltwaters Seafood, 1991 Route 27, Somerset, May 22,
7-9 p.m. 732-821-1001; www.saltwatersseafood.com.
The trio will also perform at the Downtown Freehold Gazebo
Series, East Main Street (Route 537), Freehold, June 19, 6:30-9
Sullivan | Staff Writer | Timeout Magazine
Bring a New Sound to Doll's
Thursday, September 18, 2008
-Chris Jordan | Staff Writer | Home News & Tribune
The Hub Kings are coming with their new instrumental Mondo Lounge sound.
It's mondo and it's loungy, but it's also so very Memphis soul-y, thanks
to Hub King Jonathan Tristram's percolating Hammond organ.
"We're looking for that late '50s, early '60s keyboard sound," said Hub
Kings guitarist Rob Jones. "It's a four piece (group) and the keyboard
produces the bass, kind of like the Wes Montgomery organ trio. There's a
lot of that — we're coming out of the jazz idiom."
Jazz, perhaps, but listeners will also hear echoes of the great Memphis
recording group Booker T and the MG's in the Hub Kings sound.
But there's more.
"We're very inclusive," Jones said. "We're into Soulive, Robert Walter,
the Greyboy All-Stars — some great bands and greasy beats — those guys
are our bread and butter."
The Hub Kings are celebrating the release of their debut CD, "This Way,"
tomorrow at Doll's Place in New Brunswick. The band will start at 9
p.m., and they're looking to be your background music or main groove
"We're just trying to do something a little bit different," Jones said.
"We don't fly off the handle into free-form jazz . . . It's something
traditional, rooted in the blues. There's definitely a rock-pop
sensibility and it's all coming from a place that's not a super
departure for us. We're trying to embark on something a little more in
the traditional realm in creating the Mondo Lounge sound."
The Hub Kings are something of a New Brunswick supergroup with all
members bringing lengthy resumes to the table.
Guitarist Jones of New Brunswick was in Acoustic Grooves and Overlap;
Drummer Bongo Dave, Piscataway, is a vet of Overlap, Akasa and a few
other bands along the way; Sax man Hollywood Ben Chapman, Budd Lake, was
also in Overlap and Hammond maestro Jonathan Tristram, Metuchen, made
his name locally for his guitar playing.
"Now it's a different sort of flavor," Jones said.
-Chris Jordan | Staff Writer | Home News & Tribune