So, if you’d like to experience music that is good and unexpected, then “Un-Block The Music” suggests you check out the band, International Orange. They play jazz with a twist. Drummer/percussionist Todd Isler, one of the founding members, spent some time with me to explain.
Guitarist, David Phelps and Todd met in the later 1980s in New York. They had good chemistry right off fusing their different musical influences together, said Todd. “Phelps plays guitar and slide guitar. He is also into world music and jazz, and being from Texas he has some country influence as well. Phelps has a very unique sound and approach to his instrument.” As for Todd, he was introduced to world music in high school in Cleveland where he grew up. When he got to New York City, he started to listen to and study a lot of stuff from Brazil, Africa and India. “I was already studying things like hand drumming. Both Phelps and I have incorporated these influences into our jazz and all of the other American influences. I am not trying to be an Indian musician; I just want to use instruments that intrigue me into my playing.”
What about the band’s name, International Orange? All of the group members are American, but it’s their influences that make them international, says Todd. Why Orange? “Phelps and I were eating at our favorite Brooklyn bagel joint, reading Snapple caps. One of them read, ‘The Golden Gate Bridge is painted in International Orange.’ Turns out, International Orange is an official color. Phelps’s favorite color is orange and I like the International aspect of it…..so…….International Orange became the band’s name.”
International Orange’s album, “A Man and His Dog” is their most recent and it is “For Gaku,” who was the band’s bass player for six years. He died suddenly in 2017 from a brain aneurysm, Todd says “we miss him every day.” Today, the band consists of Todd and David Phelps as well as Leo Traversa who plays bass and Adam Morrison who plays keyboard.
Currently, Todd says, the band is working on music for its next album. Hopefully, you are impatient and want to see them in person! If you are in the New York area this weekend, check them out at 8 p.m. at The Schoolhouse Theater in North Salem, NY (across from the Metro North Croton Falls station). Here is the link for tickets. https://schoolhousetheater.tix.com/Event.aspx?EventCode=1142121
Other upcoming gigs include:
Aug. 20, Jazz at the Lodge in Ossining, NY
Sept. 20, Peekskill Brewery, Peekskill, NY
Sept. 21, Music Heals, Bayshore, NY
For more information about the band, go to http://www.internationalorangeband.com