Trio of valley favorites bucks the tradition with funky, electronic-infused rock tunes.
By Jenna Stecker
In the motherland of hippie jam bands in the midst of Colorado’s bluegrass nation, there may be a band that rises out of the Grateful Dead mire and says, “We are different!” Eagle’s own The Sessh is this band.
Brainchild of longtime local Cristian Basso, The Sessh is an interesting blend of old and new, youth and maturity, classic and innovative. Basso is known for his role in Little Hercules, the Minturn-based quartet that brought New Orleans-style funk to the Colorado mountains for years.
Three or 4 years ago, Basso was introduced to guitarist Trevor Jones. Jones was playing in Eagle with his own band, Frogs Gone Fishin’, and the two were introduced by a mutual acquaintance. A friendship sprung up from their common love for New Orleans and a familiarity with the city’s music scene. Basso appreciated Jones’ stellar guitar skills and, about a year later, called him up to start playing together. Soon after, the two added Roy Burki on the drums, and from those initial musical “sessions,” The Sessh was born.
With The Sessh, Basso wanted to take a new approach to his music. Electronic music was becoming more popular and Basso was curious about the expanding genre.
“I wanted to do something a little more cutting-edge,” Basso says. “Something not typical, not traditional.”
Basso turned to a unique tool, MIDI bass, for inspiration while writing for The Sessh. The MIDI bass is used as a MIDI (Music Instrument Digital Interface) to generate numerous low-end sounds and effects, as well as a trigger to make production changes during live performances.
The Sessh’s music is an interesting combination, bringing a little of the new to the old and a little of the old to the new, and funk is the foundation on which they build their musical house. Alongside the rock trio of guitar, bass and drum, the MIDI offers a new angle to traditional tunes with the sounds of contemporary electronic music.
But do not expect to hear anyone say “whomp” about this interesting style combination – the music is more psychedelic than dubstep. The Sessh works off big, fat beats from drums, with densely layered electronic loops. This is not the “push ‘play’ and walk away” style of electronic music you see all too often today. Basso works with these loops, and they are dynamic and constantly changing. All these musical layers are evenly put together to create danceable tracks with a funky base.
This blending of organic and inorganic elements has garnered fans in the mountains, as well as on the Front Range. While the market for electronic music definitely lends itself to the younger crowds of Boulder and Denver, the mountain crowd seems to appreciate it, too.
“Mountain folk are better listeners,” guitarist Jones says. “I don’t know if that is just because they appreciate guitar playing more up there or if there just aren’t as many distractions. But we seem to get acknowledgment from both crowds and a large age range.”
Recently, The Sessh transitioned from drummer Roy Burki to Denver local Jeff Jani. Both Basso and Jones say that Burki added a unique dynamic to the Sessh, but they are excited for a fresh face.
Jani may seem green at 21 years old, but he is a fixture in the local music scene, drumming in bands like Big Motif and Frogs Gone Fishin’, as well as another project with Jones, Ape Tit.
Jones says, “I feel very lucky to have Jeff joining us. He is an awesome in-the-pocket drummer, but he is also great at being ahead of the beat. He makes my life very easy [while performing].”
Basso agrees: “Jeff is savvy and brings an organic approach to our music. His beats feel very natural and will allow us to move forward.”
With Basso’s recording studio – affectionately called the Funk Bunker – based in Eagle, there are literally mountains between Denver-based bandmates Jones and Jani. But don’t expect a few mountains to stop The Sessh.
“I’ve done the drive [from Denver to Vail] hundreds of times,” Jones says. “It usually feels like I’m just driving down the street now.”
As a follow-up to the group’s first EP in 2011, The Sessh has been working hard to bring the next effort, which Basso says is about half done. Look for a release around Feb 1.