Wilmington offers a large dose of sound—at least in rock. From the shoe-gazer indie kids to the metal bands to the hippie jam bands to the avantgarde hipsters, any music lover can pick their dose of rock and likely hear it any day during the week across town. Sure, a few other genres exist, too, but what happens if we blend the kaleidoscopic trip-rock of members from Justin Lacy and the Swimming Machine with the ‘90s-infused jazzy, hip-hop of members from The Coastal Collective? Quite simply: Temple5.
A new outfit that started in August 2013, Aaron Lane (trumpet/ horns), AJ Reynolds (saxophone), Cameron Tinklenberg (keyboards), Michael Buckley (guitar), Sean Howard (bass), and Keith Butler Jr. (drums) came together to fulfill their own desires to perform hip-hop and jazz, and push the boundaries of what audiences were hearing locally. “We also wanted to provide an opportunity for ourselves to collaborate with local singers and MCs,” AJ Reynolds says. “We feel like there is so much talent here in Wilmington and beyond that we all want to work with, but we didn’t have a medium that allowed the opportunity.”
With inspirations rooted in bands and performers like A Tribe Called Quest, Robert Glasper, Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, Chris Dave, Joe Chamber, among others, almost all of the Temple5 musicians are UNCW students. They have either graduated or are currently studying jazz within the music department.
“Our sound, due to our education, utilizes much of the jazz idiom, yet pulls chord progressions or drum beats from hip-hop,” Reynolds explains. “When we don’t have a vocalist, we are immediately identified as a jazz band because of the horns. We use saxophone and trumpet as our lead voices, and that is a huge part of jazz, but the second a vocalist is added to the mix, the horns are used as a texture.”
Each genre comes tightly mixed and inspiring to the musicians, mainly because they find it hard to decipher between the two.“Hip-hop really is just an extension or evolution of the jazz medium,” Reynolds notes. Having only recorded one song, “Excursions Part 2 (A Tribute to Tribe)”—available to stream on their Bandcamp or Soundcloud sites—it will be released on their EP “Strategic Arrival” this winter. The group featured one of their friends, Hayden “VI” Williams, on the track.
“We thought it would be suiting for our debut single to be a tribute to all of our biggest influences for this genre of music,” Reynolds notes. “Temple5’s purpose is to be a medium for singers and rappers to collaborate. The band provides the music, while the singer/rapper has the chance to make the track whatever they would like. We are essentially a live beat machine for the artist.”
Though they played together first at 2012’s Cucalorus Film Festival with Michaela Basilio, they started rehearsing and booking gigs throughout fall 2013. Throughout December, Temple5 has played The Calico Room every Thursday night—and for free. They’ll be wrapping up their residency on December 26th. They also hope to release two EPs and a full album in 2014.
“‘Strategic Arrival’ will be released late January, featuring both Jared Sales, a.k.a. J. Sales, and Hayden Williams, a.k.a. VI,” Reynolds says. “We are still on the lookout for some singers to help bring the EP to a closure.”
They hope to play more venues across Wilmington, too, but also tour, with the goal of hitting the Triangle by the end of next year. “For now the biggest chunk of our focus is recording, recording, recording—with artists, artists, artists!” Reynolds exclaims.
Currently rehearsals run around three or four hours long and come with a hodgepodge dynamic between the new members. They’re adjusting to playing and interacting on various levels to become cohesive.
“Cameron and Sean are from The Coastal Collective, so they essentially function as a unit with one another, while on the other hand me, Aaron, Mike and Keith have been playing together for well over three years in The Swimming Machine, and Aaron and I also played with Mike Blair and The Stonewalls and The Love Language,” Reynolds notes. “Practices can be very scatterbrained, but when it’s completed, it is 100 percent finished.”
Their writing process comes with complete collaboration so far. From one person devising chord progressions while another complements the groove and percussion, and another finds the melody and harmony, a blend of energetic personalities balances the more subdued. “Writing horn lines are hard!” Reynolds jokes. “The process is stressful, but between the smiley and overall positive nature of Cameron and Keith, they help keep the band together.”
Likewise, they all share a passion for the unpredictability within the jazz genre. It’s admittedly their first love, because the shifts within the music keep them consistently enamoured and challenged. “I love how much change is within the music,” Reynolds states. “There are so many styles, such as swing, bebop, Afro-Cuban, big band, soul. There are so many sounds—anything from happy to sad, beautiful to ‘ugly.’ . . . Musicians really are able to have their own way or identity toward playing jazz that makes it a personal experience for the listener, if they can decipher the language, since it’s all tones, rather than words. There is an emotional/spiritual sensitivity that’s needed to really completely understand and bring yourself to the music.”
Paired with the vocal rhythms of hip-hop, the dichotomy of the music becoming secondary for the message to be delivered also presents an interesting layer. According to Reynolds, hip-hop offers immediate acceptance to fans thanks to vocal expression. “When there is a rapper/singer, the lyrics give the listener something to identify with immediately, and they can understand what is going on,” he remarks. “In this day and age, people connect to poetry and rhythm of lyrics, yet supported by a contagious groove, laid down by the drums and bass.”
Attending a Temple5 show also means hearing a few recognizable tunes, as they cover classics like Miles Davis’ “Nardis” and Wayne Shorter’s “Night Dreamer.” Yet, they Temple5-a-nize it by hosting a rapper over the song. “The possibilities are really endless with how we can creatively fuse hip-hop and jazz together,” Reynolds says.“ We really aim to revive the boom-bap here in Wilmington and give a breath of fresh air to those that love live music.”
Folks can hear Temple5 live this Thursday at The Calico Room for free. Their EP will be released online in late January.
Thurs., Jan. 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th 10 p.m. • Free!
The Calico Room • 107 S Front St.