Airborne Jazz Interviews
Smoothjazz.com - Interview by Sandy Shore
How long has the band been playing together?
Airborne was formed in the early 1980’s. Our first musical release was in 1988. The band celebrates years of recordings, jazz festivals, concerts, clubs, gigs, and the whole ups and downs of being musicians. We can honestly say that the years have been very rewarding to us. To live a life of music is a wonderful experience and a precious gift. We feel honored and blessed as we continue to perform and record and look toward the future with a smile.
Would you please share a few highlights from the years together?
We love the process of each new recording project and release. The intervention of ideas, the collaboration of musicians, creating the jazz sound that is Airborne today. Bringing life and love to each new composition. Keeping faith and watching the growth in the band's material and popularity.
Where is the band based and how does your location factor into your music?
We are from New Haven, CT, USA. Tri-State Area - Urban based. I guess you can call us city dwellers. There is a magic in the city that absorbs many musical art forms. The sounds of the city are cool but hot. Influences of Jazz, R&B, Latin and Blues are all around you capturing your inner emotions.
You refer to yourselves as a "multi-cultural" jazz band... how come?
Our hometown of New Haven is very rich in ethic and cultural diversity. Each member is unique and brings these diversities and backgrounds to create the jazz sound. Airborne has been praised as being a living spirit of musical brotherhood. The love of jazz is shared by many cultures.
We do support the Arts. We are on the New England Foundation for the Arts and the CT Commission on the Arts
This program instills a positive attitude and direction towards musical and social growth. The no limits approach
Jazz Education is very vital for our newer generations. Teaching thoughts of imagination, personal expression, and
What are you most proud of at this point in your life and career?
To have the music of Airborne known and loved throughout the World is a dream come true. We have always kept a high musical integrity to our compositions yet still instilled a coolness or groove to our sound helping us to cross over to many different formats. To be honored by the World Peace Organization for Excellence in World Music and as Humanitarians.
We have always focused our talents and thoughts to create a harmonious atmosphere. We hope our music transfigure a spirit of love and compassion for all our fellow brothers and sisters. To echo a strong athemn to humanity that it is time to change and turn the page for the sake of our future generations.
We hope for a World without Hunger with Peace and Global Unity
Not many groups have stood the test of time like Airborne. Coming in around the time that the NAC format was really starting to cook, 1988, this outfit grew with every project, gig and album. Having just released their most powerful album yet, New Horizon's, it looks like the world is ready for this, a full dose of positive, social conscious fusion. We sat down with the band to chat about all the twisting, yet beneficial roads taken.
Airborne - Well, this new CD of ours which is our 7th, we approached it from a place of influences from our last 3 CD's. There is always a concept in an Airborne CD and our plan for "New Horizons" was to keep that Smooth Jazz feel of our 2008 "Winds of Change" CD. We also wanted that World Fusion sound that was on the 2007 "Turbulence" CD and to somehow insert the fire of our 2004 "Heavy Vibes" CD that had hot Latin rhythms and R&B vocal arrangements.
So we took all those thoughts and mixed them with some new ideas and came up with the contemporary jazz sound of this 2010 "New Horizons" CD. We are very happy with the way it came out.
John - Tell me about the new single Diggin the Atmosphere?
Airborne - Diggin the Atmosphere was composed by Thomas Borino (Piano). It"s a feel good tune with a strong groove bearing very pleasing melodic content. As you said John, it lifts you up and takes you to a better place. We call it Jazz in the Sky.
John - I feel you hit a nice balance of Jazz and mainstream music and sure, it's jazz but you hit a vibe that folks who are new to Jazz would appreciate.
Airborne - I think we hit a nice vibe for people who are new to Jazz and would like the Airborne sound. We do put a lot of time and effort into developing a good melody, melody is very important and nothing beats a wonderful melody over a solid groove that is nice to listen to and sticks with you. That combination will always attract people.
The fact that we add as we say air candy vocals to our instrumentals even draws a listening ear. We do have some vocal duets on this CD and in our live performances we always do some R&B Classics that are crowd pleasers that really rock the house.
On this new CD "New Horizons" we added two classic R&B Covers and it's the first time we've ever done any cover songs, we added Bobby Hebb's "Sunny" and Billie Holiday's "God Bless the Child".
John - Let's talk about the individual songs on the new record. We play "Sunrise" a lot.
Airborne - "Sunrise" was the first single for the "New Horizons" CD. It a nice Smooth Jazz tune with an inspirational vibe and beautiful melody.
John - "Take me Away" has a nice cool vacation feel.
John - Diggin the Atmosphere is another one that's received loads of attention and it's the new single.
John - I like you take on the old hit "Sunny".
Airborne - "Sunny" is an Airborne arrangement of a Bobby Hebb tune. As I mentioned earlier, "New Horizons" was the first CD we ever did a cover song on. It's classic R&B that heats up an audience.
John - I like the Salsa of "One World".
Airborne - "One World" is Salsa Jazz with a Message that is Hot, Vibrant and very Festive. Chanting the message that "We are One World, One People Searching for Peace and Happiness".
John - Yes, "From Jazz to James" is catchy contemporary Jazz.
Airborne - Yes, "From Jazz to James" is Contemporary Jazz to Old School Funk. It starts with a jazzy new age feel, to edgy world fusion, and ends with funk influences of James Brown and Tower of Power.
John - I felt like I was in church with "We are All Children of This World".
Airborne - "We are all Children of this World" is hand clapping and foot stomping Gospel Music with a message. It drives and rocks with a horn section and choir. It is our shout of praise that Airborne is still together and making music for over 22 years.
John - After 7 albums you have seen much change in this format. Tell me about that?
Airborne - After 7 Albums we have slightly changed are format for as each day passes by we do grow as artists and composers and our music is greatly influenced by the era or space of time we live in that untimely rattles your emotions and effects the way you write and think.
Our first 2 CD's were high energy contemporary jazz, and a little more raw and edgy and had a very strong fusion background. Our 3rd CD "Lifetones" still had that high energy contemporary jazz sound but introduced the band to a different audience with the addition of a tune called "Island View" which was our first hit smooth jazz single. Then in 2004 we added a percussionist and female vocals which refined and polished are sound a bit.
I would say today the Airborne sound is a balance of keeping the edge and fire of the funk, Latin, and fusion eras with the more refine and polished concept of the smooth jazz format in our compositions yet still staying true musically and challenging ourselves to interesting arrangements of quality and having a open mind to ideas of other cultures.
John - New Horizon's carries on where "Winds of Change" left off for me. Do you feel that way?
Airborne - I would say "New Horizons" carries on the "Winds of Change" music and message, but takes it a bit further into musical development and arrangements. You still get that Smooth Jazz and Latin feel, but the arrangements are a little more complex. It is a little more interesting CD that overlays many different styles to contemporary jazz. But both CD's does offer that wonderful message of Hope, Peace, and Love
John - Do you guys listen to any Pop?
Airborne - We listen to all styles of music. There is something to learn from every style of music. Whether it be the rhythm, the melody, ambience, mood, structure, arrangement, vocal, interpretation, and most importantly the emotion and passion. To be a great musician or vocalist you must be humble enough to really have an open mind to different ways of doings things. Being closed minded keeps you in a box with no windows stopping you to see the world and what wonders it can offer us. We always strive to learn and observe what is around us and to incorporate it in our music.
John - Tell me how it started for you. For instance, what was the first album you ever bought?
Airborne - I (Thomas Borino) always knew I wanted to be a musician, so as a young lad I had a newspaper route to earn money to buy an organ. I had to sell a lot of newspapers to buy that organ. I then took traditional piano lessons. Three months after playing I was approached by a band and they wanted me to join the band, but I told them I just started playing, and they said, "Do you have an organ?" I said, "Yes" and they said, "You're in the band" So at 14 years old that was my start of a very fulfilling music career.
The first album I bought was by the Young Rascal's and my first organ solo I ever learned was the organ solo on their song "Good Lovin".
Music was always in our home, (Greg Borino) the band's always practiced at our house. The whole neighborhood would always gather around our house just to listen to the music and have fun. I started playing guitar at age 10, I then went to ECA, which was a High School for the Performing Arts and then later on I graduated from Berklee College of Music.
John - Do you have an all-time favorite album?
Airborne - (Thomas Borino), I would have to say I have three all time favorite albums. They are "Light as a Feather" and "My Spanish Heart" by Chick Corea and "Trust" by Herbie Hancock.
(Greg Borino) I would have to say three albums also. They are "Birds of Fire" by the Mahavishu Orchestra, "Welcome" by Santana and "Watercolors" by Pat Metheny.
The Airborne sound is an influence of all these great artists and albums, the Latin of Chick Corea, the Funk of Herbie Hancock, the Rock of Santana, the Fusion of the Mahavishu Orchestra, and the Beautiful Textures of the Pat Methany Group.
The real concept of a band or ensemble is always present in the music of Airborne. The sharing of ideas and coming up with an original jazz sound that was truly our own was our goal. It has been said that even with the wide styles of compositions we produce the group still has an identifiable stamp regardless of what and where we adventure into. The days of a band sound is still alive and well and very much appreciated by everyone.
John - Who would you like to work with?
Airborne - I would have to say after 22 years we enjoy working with the Airborne musicians, it has been quite a ride and we love what we do and the creative process. We have a great working relationship and it still is fun. We do enjoy working with other musicians that's why on all the Airborne CD's there will be many guest artists. Working with other people you learn and grow as a musician and as a person. We love working with other musicians from all over the world. Just to hear their stories and to hear all these different styles of music is very rewarding.
A point of note: If you would like to know more about Airborne, go to www.airbornejazz.com. Where you can hear music samples, purchase their CD's and downloads, watch videos or just get info on the group and the cause they represent. Airborne has been proclaimed the Musical Peacemakers of Contemporary Jazz
Artist Interview by: Susan Frances - Jazz Review
Airborne --Authentically Multi-Cultured - Musical Peacemakers
The six-man and one-woman contemporary jazz / world music ensemble Airborne, who call the heart of New Haven, Connecticut their home, are setting course for a tour in support of their latest release Turbulence from Tilt Records.
Core members Thomas Borino on piano, Greg Borino on guitars, and Thomas Sansone on saxophone expanded
The band is excited about coming into their 20th year together in 2008, still feeling good about their enterprising sound and making a difference across the globe and in their own corner of the world. The band discusses their involvement in community arts programs as well as how their music has grown in the last twenty years. Airborne's music is as multi-culturedas ever with an authenticity that takes the listener to the place of its origins. Its members are as autonomous as always with reverence for each others musical diversity as they bring it all together into a floral musical collage.
Jazzreview: What was the recording process like for Turbulence?
Airborne: The recording process usually starts with a composition and arrangement that is written by either
Jazzreview: How did the song "Drums Of Peace" from Turbulence come together?
Airborne: Thomas Sansone wrote and played that haunting melodic saxophone on this interesting music piece. The chants in "Drums Of Peace" are actually from a few African dialects. The chants proclaim , Listen to the drums of peace, Awake the peace, and Peace to the World. Authentic African drums and rhythms beat to the cry of that continent.
Jazzreview: How was the arrangement for the track "Can't Fight Love" decided?
Airborne: Thomas Borino wrote, arranged and sang on this funky duet with Elizabeth Dellinger. Our R&B roots from childhood come out in this tune. We grew up listening to soul and Motown as well as jazz. The band is blessed with vocal abilities both male and female. This crosses us over to non-jazz lovers, especially in a live venue where a classic R&B tune can put a place on fire.
Jazzreview: Does the band use any music technology for the recordings?
Airborne: In the studio, we use Steinberg products. They are great programs and offer much to enhance the music. All the music on Turbulence is actually played.
Jazzreview: Why did Airborne decide to go with a big band sound for the song "Hillside Swing"?
Airborne: "Hillside Swing" was a challenge and it took a lot of tracks, time and listening. But we are all very happy with the result.
Jazzreview: What are some of the themes of the songs on Turbulence?
Airborne: Our world is overwhelmingly filled with physical, emotional, political and economical distress, disaster, and confusion. That you can say is turbulence. We are not saying that music is a solution. The answers are found in our society, in that awareness and attitudes (which) are very important factors for everyone. The message we want to convey is that we can all make a difference in this world of need. If we try to help, support, and mostly understand. Only then can we find and achieve peace and global unity. I guess the message is love.
Jazzreview: What was the impetus for making Turbulence?
Airborne: Turbulence is one of those projects where everything just lined up and worked. There was a special enthusiasm in each musician. I guess you can say there was no Heavy Vibes in the recording, pun intended. That was our last CD. We recorded and produced this one. I think the compassion we have for this music is ever present in this recording.
Jazzreview: How is Turbulence different from Airborne's previous albums?
Airborne: Our first 3 CD's were mostly instrumental. The Heavy Vibes and Turbulence added our percussionist and
Jazzreview: Why does the band gravitate to Island and Latin accents in your music?
Airborne: We are from New Haven, Connecticut, USA, Tri-State Area, urban based. I guess you can call us city dwellers. There is a magic in the city that absorbs many musical art forms. The sounds of the city are cool but hot. Influences of jazz, R&B, Latin, and blues are all around you, capturing your inner emotions. We also have a passion for the music of the Caribbean. When someone asks what kind of music we do, we tell them contemporary jazz with an island passion and urban emotion. Picture the band performing jazz on a street corner shaded by a palm tree.
Jazzreview: When did the band members first come together?
Airborne: The band was formed in 1988. This year 2008, we will be celebrating our 20th Anniversary. The band has survived all the ups and downs of being musicians. I can honestly say that the years have been very rewarding to us. To live a life of music is a wonderful experience and a precious gift. To continue working with these amazing musicians is an honor.
Jazzreview: What was it like growing up in New Haven, Connecticut?
Airborne: Our hometown of New Haven is very rich in ethic and cultural diversity. Each member is unique and brings these diversities and backgrounds to create the jazz sound. Airborne has been praised as being a living spirit of musical brotherhood.
Jazzreview: What was Airborne's first rehearsal like?
Airborne: Even in the early years of the band, there was a real commitment to create good jazz music. Many comments of the band were that no one ever stood in the background. Each musician contributed to the sound of the band. An Airborne performance always showcases the talents of all the musicians but still keeps the integrity of the composition. That was always present even in the early years.
Jazzreview: When was Airborne's first show and what was it like?
Airborne: In the 1980's in our hometown of New Haven at the legendary Toads Place. We performed with Tower Of Power. The place was jamming and such a funky good time. We were received with such respect and an overwhelming response, FOUR encores!!
Jazzreview: What was the band's musical direction in those early days?
Airborne: The jazz band started with both originals and classic R&B tunes. Even from the beginning,
Jazzreview: Who came up with the name of the band and why did it fit?
Airborne: Greg Borino came up with the name. Airborne describes something in flight and constant movement.
Jazzreview: What keeps the members motivated to stay in the band?
Airborne: We love the process of each new recording project and release. The intervention of ideas, the
Jazzreview: How have the band members changed over the years?
Airborne: I think over the years, we have developed into better musicians and humanitarians.
Jazzreview: When did everyone in the band begin playing their instruments?
Airborne: Everyone started private lessons on our instruments from age 12 years old and up and all of us
Jazzreview: Who are some of the musicians or bands that you have made friends with or recorded tracks for?
Airborne: Laco Dezci, Yvette Early, Thomas Mitchell, Rev Keith Outlaw, etc. We have recorded and produced for artists of many different genres - jazz, R&B, and Gospel.
Jazzreview: Why does the band stay with the indie record label Tilt?
Airborne: I guess the freedom of recording and producing our own CD’s. It is easier to create without restrictions. The music will then become the first priority. We input and decide the marketing ideas. So the right message and the music become one and easier to communicate. We have a vision on how our music is represented. We look for people of humility to be on board to help our career and cause.
Jazzreview: How did the band get involved in the Arts Education Program with the Connecticut Commission of the Arts?
Airborne: We support the Arts. We are on the New England Foundation for the Arts and the Connecticut Commission on the Arts performing (on their) arts touring rosters. We bring ‘A Century of Jazz’ Arts in Education program into the schools. A demonstration of a variety of jazz forms and styles supported by a historical narration,
Jazzreview: What are your thoughts about these music education programs?
Airborne: Jazz education is very vital for our newer generations. Teaching thoughts of imagination, personal
Jazzreview: On the band’s myspace site, you posted an email from a fan named Corey Woodard who wrote that he is stationed in Afghanistan and really enjoys jazz music. How did the note make the band feel and is Airborne scheduled to do a USO Tour?
Airborne: That email was an emotional cry for a touch of home by a US service man who loved our music
Jazzreview: What is your impression of the Internet?
Airborne: We are true internet believers. It makes the world a smaller place. It has helped us promote our music all over the world. The music of Airborne reaches out to everyone in our crazy world. Airborne is multi-cultural and international.