Mark Egan to Release New Album ‘Cross Currents’

Egan Forms a Potent Trio with SNL Drummer Shawn Pelton and Dynamic Six-Stringer Shane Theriot

Mark Egan to Release New Album ‘Cross Currents’

Egan Forms a Potent Trio with SNL Drummer Shawn Pelton and Dynamic Six-Stringer Shane Theriot

After five decades of touring and recording as an in-demand sideman and leader in his own right, acclaimed bassist Mark Egan has finally released an album that encapsulates his myriad of musical influences in one all-encompassing package. “In many ways this is a new production sound for me,” said the bassist who studied privately with Jaco Pastorius during the mid ‘70s while attending the University of Florida before becoming a charter member of The Pat Metheny Group. “My early influences are from playing r&b, soul and rock before becoming indoctrinated into jazz in the Miami years.

This trio record explores those rootsy R&B funk-rock grooves coupled with my jazz and world sensibilities and utilizes the various fretted and fretless basses that I’ve worked with over the years. It’s a culmination of the many worlds of my experiences and is the reason that it’s titled Cross Currents.”

Completing this potent trio with Egan are drummer Shawn Pelton (a 30-year veteran of the Saturday Night Live band and first-call New York City studio player who has recorded with everyone from Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart and Bruce Springsteen to Elton John, Billy Joel, Van Morrison, Sheryl Crow, David Byrne, Pink and Luciano Pavarotti) and Louisiana-born guitarist Shane Theriot (musical director for Hall & Oates who has also recorded and/or performed with The Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Boz Scaggs, Allen Toussaint, Rickie Lee Jones, Willie Nelson and Todd Rundgren).

Together they cut a wide stylistic swath on Cross Currents, from funk (‘Homebrew’, ‘Pocket Call’) to ambient (‘Big Sky’) to swamp rock (‘Gulf Stream’), second-line (‘Ponchatrain’) and ballads (the Jimi Hendrix flavored ‘Sand Castles’ and the moody ‘Roll With It’) with allusions to Cajun (‘Nonc Rodell’) and Indian Raga (‘Eastern Blue’).

Recorded at Power Station New England in Waterford, CT (a perfect replica of the storied New York City recording studio where Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, David Bowie, Madonna, Sting, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Mayer recorded iconic albums), Cross Currents is Egan’s most versatile and ambitious offering to date. While his past outings as a leader, like 2006’s As We Speak, 2010’s Truth Be Told, 2014’s About Now and Direction Home, 2018’s Dreaming Spirits and 2020’s Electric Blue, have been primarily organic trio and duo affairs, Cross Currents is a power trio with orchestrated layers of rhythms and textures by the participants.

“The intent of this recording was to capture the interplay and energy of the trio and orchestrate it by adding additional guitars, bass and percussion to enhance what the songs were calling for.

Everyone had so many great ideas for orchestrating and arranging the material. The record has electric and acoustic guitar as well as bass and percussion overdubs. We wanted to make atmospheric pads to create a backdrop for us to improvise over. Once I had decided on recording this trio format I spent nine months of composing and arranging the compositions. Shane and Shawn also spent a lot of time conceptualizing and contributing songs. We had three days to record and orchestrate the eleven compositions so the preproduction allowed us to have the time to be creative in the studio and focus on the group interplay and soloing.”

For Egan, interplay and soloing means digging down on his fretted bass

groove lines to lock with the rhythm section and using his fretless electric bass for his signature singing sound that has graced his own recordings since 1985’s groundbreaking and decidedly bass-centric Mosaic. That quality comes across throughout Cross Currents and is particularly evident with him carrying the melody on tunes like ‘Gulf Stream’, ‘Big Sky’, ‘Pocket Call’ and the title track or by his uncommonly lyrical improvising on tunes like ‘Ponchatrain’, ‘Homebrew’, ‘Sunflower’ and ‘Eastern Blue’.

The bassist had high praise for his comrades Shawn and Shane on Cross Currents. “They both came very prepared for the sessions. I had sent them demos along with arrangements with suggestions for solo sections and overdub possibilities, and we rehearsed one day before going into the studio to work things out. Shane and Shawn both brought so much to the table and did their homework by creating and practicing grooves, melodies and instrument choices as well as coming up with great orchestration ideas. They are both so fundamentally strong in everything they do that it made the recording process creative and a lot of fun.”

Egan had previously recorded with Theriot on the bassist’s 2018 album, Dreaming Spirits, an Indian flavored trio project with tabla player/percussionist Arjun Bruggeman. “I loved Shane’s contribution on Dreaming Spirits and thought he would be a perfect fit for the trio on Cross Currents. And though Shawn and I have played together on many sessions in New York over the years, he had never played on any of my records before.”

The three players had actually first established some chemistry on a show backing NYC poet Frank Messina back in pre-pandemic times. “This was late 2019, before the COVID shut down,” Egan recalled. “Frank asked me to recommend people for this show that he was performing in New York City and I recommended Shane and Shawn. There was no rehearsal but just a very loose structure to it all with a lot of improvisation. Frank gave us a lot of room to improvise and play off of his poetry. At one point that evening we were playing trio — just Shane, Shawn and myself. That was the ‘light bulb moment’ for me, when I thought, this is very happening. I want to record a project with this trio. In the fall of 2022 I was in touch with Shane and Shawn about recording a trio project and I started writing songs for the group. Shane also sent me a few of his songs that inspired me to write others in a similar style. We co-wrote ‘Big Sky’ as Shane sent me the song as a demo with acoustic guitar chords and a groove and I wrote a melody and added an extended section for his acoustic guitar solo. Shane also contributed ‘Ponchatrain’, ‘Sunflower’ and ‘Homebrew’. Shawn contributed ‘Nonc Rodell’ which is a tribute to his uncle.

‘Nonc Rodell’ showcases Shawn as a world class groove drummer as well as the depth of his creative drumming abilities. Shawn pre recorded his tracks at his studio with his drums, squeezebox (accordion), and added tenor guitar parts as well. We brought those tracks into Power Station New England studio and Shane and I added guitars and basses on top of Shawn’s prerecorded tracks. It’s a very creative track that features Shawn’s amazing drumming and I love it.”

An in-demand New York City studio musician who has played on multi-gold and platinum-selling recordings by Sting, Arcadia, Marc Cohn, GRP Christmas, Mecano and Joan Osborne, Egan has also recorded with a wide variety of artists from pop stars like Roger Daltry, Sophie B. Hawkins, Marianne Faithfull, Judy Collins, Cyndi Lauper and Art Garfunkel to jazz notables like David Sanborn, John McLaughlin, John Abercrombie, Randy Brecker, Gato Barbieri, Freddy Cole, Pat Martino, Jim Hall, Joe Beck, Mark Murphy and Larry Coryell. A member of the Gil Evans Orchestra for 13 years, he has 14 albums as a leader to his credit and another 10 as a co-leader of Elements, the fusion band he formed in 1982 with his Pat Metheny Group bandmate, drummer Danny Gottlieb.

And now Cross Currents, on his own Wavetone label, may be his crowning achievement to date as Egan continues to push the boundaries of his creativity.

About Mark Egan:

One of the premier electric bassists of contemporary jazz, Mark Egan has distinguished himself over the past five decades with his distinctive fretless bass sound that has graced countless jazz and pop albums as well as award-winning movie and television soundtracks. An in-demand New York City studio musician who has played on multi-gold and platinum-selling recordings by Sting, Arcadia, Marc Cohn,GRP Christmas, Mecano and Joan Osborne, Egan has also recorded with a wide variety of artists from pop stars like Roger Daltrey, Sophie B. Hawkins, Marianne Faithfull, Judy Collins, Cyndi Lauper and Art Garfunkel to jazz notables like David Sanborn, John McLaughlin, John Abercrombie, Randy Brecker, Gato Barbieri, Freddy Cole, Jim Hall, Joe Beck, Pat Martino, Mark Murphy and Larry Coryell.

A charter member of the Pat Metheny Group (formed in 1977) and member of the Gil Evans Orchestra for 13 years, Egan has 14 albums as a leader to his credit and another 10 as a co-leader of Elements, the fusion band he formed in 1982 with his Pat Metheny Group bandmate, drummer Danny Gottlieb.

Born in1951 in Brockton, MA, Egan’s first instruments were trumpet and guitar, which he picked up at age 10 and continued to play through high school. He began playing bass at age 15 and later went to the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music as a trumpet student. He switched his major to electric and acoustic bass midway through the program and ended up taking private lessons with Don Coffman, Lucas Drew and Jaco Pastorius, also playing in a band with the future Weather Report bassist called Bakers Dozen, led by the jazz multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan and pianist Vince Lawrence DiMaggio. As Egan told For Bass Players Only:

“I had been hearing about Jaco through the grapevine, since we were both in the south Florida area. Ira Sullivan had spoken of Jaco and the first time we met was at a Bakers Dozen rehearsal. We split the bass book along with a very fine acoustic bassist, Don Mast. Jaco brought a very large Sony reel-to-reel tape machine with headphones and played a recording of Wayne Cochran and the CC Riders. That was it for me. It was revolutionary and I knew that I was standing next to an innovator.”

At the time, I was also very inspired by acoustic bassists Dave Holland, Ron Carter, Eddie Gomez, Scott LaFaro, Paul Chambers, Charles Mingus, Jimmie Garrison and Stanley Clarke as well as Electric bassists James Jameson, Chuck Rainey, Joe Osborne, Jerry Jemmott and Michael Henderson.

In 1975, after graduating from the University of Miami, Egan toured with Eumir Deodato, the Pointer Sisters and recorded with David Sanborn (on 1977’s Promise Me the Moon). He was part of the Pat Metheny Group until 1980, appearing on 1978’s Pat Metheny Group and 1979’s American Garage.

With the group’s drummer, Danny Gottlieb, he formed the jazz fusion band Elements, which also featured saxophonist Bill Evans and Clifford Carter- keyboards, recording and touring through the 1990s. During the 1980s and 1990s, Egan was also part of the Gil Evans Orchestra, appearing on Live at Sweet Basil, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, Farewell and Bud and Bird. During that period he also appeared on such recordings as Stan Getz’s Billy Hightstreet Samba, Jim Hall’s Concerto de Aranjuez, Michael Franks’ Objects of Desire and Skin Dive, Arcadia’s So Red the Rose, Sting’s Nothing Like the Sun, Mike Stern’s Upside Downside, Dave Liebman’s Homage to John Coltrane, Alex DiGrassi’s Altiplano, Tuck & Patti’s Tears of Joy, Special EFX’s Double Feature, Laurie Anderson’s Strange Angels and Toninho Horta’s Moonstone.

Egan debuted as a leader with 1985’s Mosaic and followed with a string of successive recordings including 1988’s A Touch of Light, 1991’s Beyond Words, 2001’s Freedom Town and 2006’s As We Speak, his superb trio outing with drummer Gottlieb and guitarist John Abercrombie. On 2010’s Truth Be Told, he reunited with longtime colleagues Mitch Forman on keyboards, Bill Evans on saxophones and Roger Squitero on percussion. “Mitch is one of the first players that I met when I came to New York in 1976,” Egan recalled. “And Bill and I have a longstanding history that goes back to loft sessions with Steve Grossman in 1981 and shortly thereafter to the first Elements recording.”

Through the ‘90s, Egan played on recordings by trumpeter Lew Soloff, guitarist Joe Beck, vocalist Mark Murphy, the Who frontman Roger Daltrey, saxophonists Donald Harrison and Gato Barbieri, pop singers Joan Osborne, Marianne Faithfull, Sohie B. Hawkins and Vanessa Williams and Broadway musical star Bernadette Peters. He continued his prolific output as a session man into the new millennium by playing on albums by keyboardist Jason Miles, guitarist Larry Coryell, pop star Cyndi Lauper, Brazilian singer Flora Purim, Broadway musical star Brian Stokes Mitchell, smooth jazz sax star Steve Cole and Hindu devotional singer Krishna Das. He also appeared on several recordings led by his Elements bandmates Bill Evans and Danny Gottlieb. Mark also recorded on the Coen Brothers’ movie “The Big Labowski”.

Egan’s passion and visionary approach to contemporary instrumental music led to the formation in 1992 of his Wavetone Records. With 26 releases to date, including all of Egan’s recorded output along with recordings by guitarists Jeff Ciampa and Joe Beck and three releases by Elements, Wavetone has established itself as an innovative independent record label, dedicated to discovering, producing and promoting the finest in contemporary instrumental music. Many of those Wavetone outings were done at Egan’s Electric Fields, a state-of-the-art recording studio in New Canaan, CT, designed by the highly acclaimed acoustical architect Francis Manzella.

For more information visit: www.markegan.com

Bass Magazine   By: Bass Magazine