SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Augustana University professor Brian Hanegan is the school’s director of jazz studies, and his first album, titled “Constellation,” comes out on April 1.
“It exists under, in the jazz idiom for sure,” Hanegan said. “It’s more of a jazz fusion, or some sort of mixture of rock with jazz.”
Hanegan wrote all six of its songs. Joining him on “Constellation” are Jimmy Speirs, Emmanuel Michael, Reuben Rodriguez and Bryce Job.
“This experience was definitely a little different in the fact that we did it all live, which a lot of albums you record on you do separate takes,” Job said. “So it’s just really getting the feel to work with everyone and make sure everything’s sounding right, because obviously you don’t get a chance to go back and redub anything.”
“You’re in the studio, and you’re like, ‘Aw man I missed that flat,’ and then we gotta start over,” Speirs said. “So ’cause it was recorded live. This isn’t tracked, it’s all done in one take.”
“The flavors of Reuben with Bryce with Emmanuel took on their own flavors if you will, and then so I started writing tunes to fit that rhythm section, and then Jimmy obviously is easy to write for as well,” Hanegan said.
“Constellation” was recorded in Sioux Falls just off North Cliff Avenue. The album begins with “Groovy,” an easy-going, unhurried tune.
KELOLAND’s Dan Santella: “What makes ‘Groovy’ groovy?”
HANEGAN: The bassline.
The second song is “Constellation,” an anthemic, rising song.
“It’s just a reminder that people can look at things from a lens of 30,000 feet maybe a little more often,” Hanegan said.
Third on the album is “Ballad for Olly.” Olly was Hanegan’s dog who passed away.
“It’s a singable melody that can have emotion should you choose to play it that way, and so I think the whole design of it is to be organic to each time that you do it,” Hanegan said.
Next up is a song called “Peace.”
“When you’re soloing you go around and you play the form of the song multiple times,” Speirs said. “Well this form just kind of connects to itself, so it just feels like it never quite ends.”
“When you listen to the chart with the full band, there’s an energy on this one that’s, kind of feels like, throughout, that it never goes away,” Hanegan said.
After “Peace” is “Canguelo,” which brings the album’s cover to mind, taking a listener to an outer space.
“It’s a tune that I use my electronic sax, my EWI, for, and yeah it’s just a blues tune that’s funky,” Hanegan said.
The album finishes with “Love and Other Things.”
“Another singable melody based upon sort of like a full ensemble experience in terms of like, call and response from the whole group, and so it has kind of a simple form to it until the call and response thing kind of happens, and it adds another layer to it,” Hanegan said.
In that piece, Hanegan and Speirs answer each other with a repeating four-note section. Hanegan hopes that his “Constellation” has a personal impact on the listener.
“As an artist releasing any type of music there’s always nerves involved,” Hanegan said. “I just hope that when, if and when people take a listen, that they have an experience. Simply music for people to listen to, to have an experience with, and hopefully they can use it in any capacity that they need. If it’s healing, if it’s workouts, you name it, just to have an experience and relate with humans.”
You can preorder the album on Bandcamp, Amazon or Apple.