Genre-Bending Guitarist Aaron StroessnerDigs into His Love of Jazz with the Quartet Debut on Haymarket Station,Available January 24
The Aaron Stroessner Quartet debut Haymarket Station resonates with memorable themes set in creative explorations of mood and style. Inspirations are cryptically referenced in the titles; while “Amtrak,” “Kief,” “There and Back” and “Django Unchained” pay homage to John Coltrane, Keith Jarrett, Jeff Beck, and the MJQ, other titles directly reference style, as in “Ocho Rios” and “Blue Shoe Samba.” Each inspiration begins as a seductive starting point for Stroessner’s simple yet resilient narratives, which are guided as much by intuition as tradition. Haymarket Station is undoubtedly a jazz recording, with extensive improvisations throughout; its ten songs were all recorded in a single day by GRAMMY® Award-nominated producer Tom Ware.
Stroessner’s guitar playing is a lot like his songwriting, with a developed melodic sense that can be both simple and sophisticated. The same could be said of Hammond B3 player Kevin Lloyd, who generates tremendous emotional peaks and valleys on Haymarket Station. Lloyd also comes from a varied background, playing jazz, blues, and funk gigs by night and gospel by day at the New Beginning Community Baptist Church in Omaha, NE. At age 13, Lloyd started a decade-long engagement at Lee’s Chicken Restaurant in Lincoln and joined Chicago bluesman Magic Slim’s band just a few years later. The variety of tones evoked by Lloyd’s B3 and Stroessner’s telecaster complement the songs on Haymarket Station, at times suggesting an otherworldly landscape.
Besides playing in the Aaron Stroessner Quartet, bassist Mitchell Benson also writes, sings, and performs in several different bands. With that mindset, Benson developed his contribution to Haymarket Station organically, discerning each song’s identity on a case-by-case basis. Drummer Andrew Wray, on the other hand, seems to experiment on every take, fearless on his instrument. The youngest of the group, Wray arrived in Lincoln playing beyond his years, having grown-up studying with noted Kansas City drummer Brandon Graves. The future looks bright for Wray, recently performing with the likes of Donny McCaslin, Victor Lewis, and Shodekeh. A composer in his own right, Wray always keeps an eye on the big picture.
The audience for Haymarket Station is wide and far reaching; perhaps the Aaron Stroessner Quartet is destined to keep playing jazz in blues bars, or maybe they’ll cross over to some jam band scene. Whatever the audience, Stroessner’s discerning, memorable songs are perfect for the challenge, providing listeners with easy access to exotic places.
About Aaron Stroessner: From a small town in Wisconsin, Stroessner grew up a self-taught rock guitarist until college, when he started studying music by day and following unheralded blues master Paul Black around Madison, WI by night. Stroessner’s love of Black’s music deepened his interest in blues and eventually jazz, after transferring to Berklee College of Music in Boston. At Berklee, and subsequently for many years in New York City, Stroessner befriended an extraordinary group of jazz musicians who would influence his development in unexpected ways.
In an act of rebellion, he returned to his roots, playing original rock with the somewhat infamous band Sweetybomb, whose post-punk penchant for the Pixies was an early influence. Stroessner subsequently created his country-punk-grunge-pop band, Dead Left, singing and playing with fellow guitarist Zeke Zima, bassist Bob Roe, and drummer Brian Delaney. Dead Left released four independent CDs over several years and performed regularly in the rock clubs of New York City and in ASCAP, SESAC, and Berklee College showcases.
After a brief stint acting in Los Angeles, Stroessner eventually came to the University of Nebraska to earn a Doctor of Musical Arts in Jazz Guitar. For a city its size, Lincoln has a healthy music scene, with notable blues, roots and rock clubs. Without a dedicated jazz club, however, Aaron realized that his music would need to cross-over in one way or another, a notion he was quite comfortable with. During and after graduate school, Aaron wrote the songs on Haymarket Station, still telling stories, just no longer with words.
- There and Back
- Ocho Rios
- Blue Shoe Samba
- Django Unchained
- Big and Strong
- Blue Tooth
- Outside Inn
Aaron Stroessner -guitar, songs
Kevin Lloyd -Hammond B3 organ
Mitchell Benson -bass
Andrew Wray -drums