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MP3 Mantra - IntotheOut

Cutting edge electric jazz trio of keyboards, guitar and drums playing in the style of "Bitches Brew" era Miles Davis and early Weather Report while looking toward the future.

8 MP3 Songs
JAZZ: Jazz Fusion, JAZZ: Free Jazz

Introducing: MANTRA

Mantra is an exciting new trio dedicated to forging an original voice in Jazz. Mantra draws inspiration from the vibrant and fertile early period of electric Jazz- Miles Davis, Tony Williams Lifetime, and Weather Report- and mixes this with the melodic and rhythmic freedom of the avant garde to produce a compelling and fresh sound. Mantra features Chuck Underwood on guitar and loops; Jon Ozment on organ, electric piano and synth; and Mark Merella on drums and percussion. Mantra performs original compositions and their versions of tunes by Jazz greats, employing a gamut of textures from structured to freely improvised, traditional Jazz trio to modern electronic soundscapes, resulting in a powerful and persuasive new sound.

NEWS - MANTRA is proud to be a part of the Weather Report tribute CD "Mysterious Voyages" to be released by ESC Records on April 25th ''05 in Europe and Japan. The US release date is set for mid May ''05 on Tone Center Records. This double disc release will feature renditions of classic Weather Report tunes as played by such world class artists as Mike Stern, Christian McBride, Marcus Miller, Ray Bryant, Scott Henderson, the late great Tony Williams and many others. The track "Mysterious Traveler" from IntotheOut will be included in this tribute.

"Energy abounds on this session. It has an infectious, pulsating group attitude to go along with it''s ambitious group improvising". - Cadence

"...Mantra draws rich inspiration from the early fusion movement of the 1970''s. For all the sampling and wanna-be funk that has clogged the market lately, Mantra remains close to the true spirit of the Miles Revolution..."
- All About Jazz

Mantra Bio

Mark Merella -drums & percussion

Mark Merella is a versatile percussionist adept at both drum set and hand percussion. He has worked with a variety of artists in the jazz and Latin fields including saxophonists Fred Foss and Rene McLean, trumpeter Tommy Williams and percussionist Steve Berrios co-founder of the Fort Apache Band. Mark has also worked with the groups Rumba Club, Mambo Combo, Ala Carte Brass & Percussion and as part of Havana Select he played for Celia Cruz''s induction into the Smithsonian and 1997''s Black Music Conference in Chicago. On the R&B circuit Mark has worked with The Flamingos, Bo Diddley and Mary Wilson of The Supremes. Mark was also commissioned by the American Composers Forum to compose a piece for Jane Franklin Dance, which premiered March 1st, 2003. A highlight of Mark''s career was playing with the Latin Jazz All Stars alongside Steve Turre, Ray Vega and Andy Gonzalez. Currently Mark co-leads the group Mosaic, performs with The D.C. Improvisers Collective, teaches and freelances throughout the Washington/Baltimore area.

Jon Ozment - organ/electric piano/synths

Keyboardist Jon Ozment has been working out of the DC area for twenty years as a performer, producer and arranger. He has produced and arranged for recordings by local artists Imani and First Prayer, Maryann Redmond and Al Williams. Jon has performed extensively in the jazz and contemporary jazz fields, appearing on recordings with Buck Hill, David Yarborough, Origem and Vinnie Valentino. He has performed in concerts with Jon Faddis, Bobby Hutcherson, Al Jarreau, Ethel Ennis and Larry Ridley and has toured nationally with Miki Howard, Kim Waters and the Blackbyrds. Throughout ''97-''99 Jon was touring the States and Europe with Maceo Parker. Jon resides in Washington, DC with his wife and three children.

Chuck Underwood - guitar & loops

Chuck Underwood has been an in demand guitarist for more than twenty years performing and recording with some of Washington, DC''s most respected musicians. Chuck has performed as guest soloist with the National Symphony and as part of Patti Labelle''s touring band appeared on the Tonight Show, Showtime At The Apollo, and venues worldwide. Chuck has also performed with artists as diverse as James Brown, Greg Karukas and Lester Bowie. Currently Chuck works with Pam Bricker, The Manny Bobenrieth Ensemble and leads his own jazz trio. Chuck was nominated by the Washington Area Musicians Association for best instrumentalist in 2002.

Inside The Sessions

The group Mantra and our debut recording is the result of a camaraderie between three like-minded musicians. Jon Ozment, Chuck Underwood and myself have shared many gigs together on the Washington music scene. The rapport among us also led to jam sessions and this planted the seeds for the IntotheOut sessions. Chuck, Jon and I not only share a love for jazz masters John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter but also for rock groups such as the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Yes and Led Zeppelin. It was only natural during our formative years we would be listening to Weather Report, Miles Davis''s electric bands and Tony Williams Lifetime. It was our love and respect for these groups that played REAL jazz-rock that prompted us to take that spirit into the studio.

The sessions took place in August 2000 at Chuck''s home studio and since there was no real time limit or budget involved we were able to just relax and play. With Miles Davis''s modus operandi in mind there was no prior rehearsal. Some of the melodies were given a run through, then the tune immediately recorded. Virtually everything you hear on Into the Out is a first take. The precedent was to have the maximum spontaneity regardless of mistakes. The only overdubs were by myself on percussion and were recorded in one pass to maintain the same feeling of the original tracks. The four pieces ''written'' in collaboration are free improvisations that draw on everything from James Brown to the avant-garde.

In the end I hope you have as much fun listening as we had playing: Jon brings a full palette of vintage keyboard sounds to this recording and yet sonically and harmonically looks toward the future. Chuck''s energetic guitar playing provides the drive and urgency that''s so vital to this music. Together their creativity inspired me to reach for levels I hadn''t been to before - hopefully I made it.

If you''re a fan of the Bitches Brew era I hope you find IntotheOut a worthy homage to the jazz giants who dared to plug in. If you''re a newcomer, hopefully this CD will inspire you to check out creative music of all kinds. Please turn it up and listen more than once!

- Mark Merella

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