Local bassist, composer, and producer Zachary Teran joined us in-studio to chat about his first solo album, Portalis.
Zack has toured, recorded, and played with some legendary groups including The Novelists, AZTeC, Chris Clark Quintet, Sol Jibe, Nico’s Mystery, Fiscus, and The Reno Jazz Syndicate. Listen below to the conversation we had with Zack about his first solo album, jazz in Reno, and releasing the record with the LA-based label, Orenda Records.
A transcript of the conversation is available below.
Catching Up with Zack Teran
Intro: Hey, this is Tom with KWNK. A few days ago, I got to catch up with local musician Zack Teran. Zack is a bassist, composer, and producer right here in the Reno-Tahoe area. He graduated from the University of Nevada Reno in 2010, and ever since, has been playing in such groups as The Novelists, Chris Clark Quintet, Nico’s Mystery, and the Reno Jazz Syndicate. Last month, he released his first solo album, Portalis, with a group of incredible local musicians. In the next thirty minutes or so, you’ll hear the conversation Zack and I had about the new record, signing to a record label, and lastly, what Zack’s been listening to. I hope you enjoy our conversation, and you can check out the Zack Teran Group at ZackTeran.com, or on Facebook. Please support local music… KWNK – You can find KWNK at KWNK.org, as well.
Tom: When did you start this record? When did you the idea of forming The Zack Teran Group and releasing a solo record come about?
Zack: I mean, I’ve had some of these songs – some of the songs are new; like, within the last handful of months when I recorded it – it was recorded in September – and a handful of them are, like, a year or two old, and I’ve kind of always wanted to put out my own record, and I turned thirty this year, and I was like, “You know, this is probably a good time. Like, I’ll try to put out an album.” And, yeah! So, I just had the right group of people in town that I like playing with, and all of the means with which to make an album.
Tom: Can you tell us a bit about the musicians you brought together to make this record? I know they’re all local, all people that you played with on a lot of other projects. Can you tell us more about them?
Zack: Yeah, absolutely. So, Brandon Sherman on trumpet; Chris Jolette on tenor saxophone, and Miguel Jimenez on drums. I guess we all went to UNR. Brandon and I studied together when I was doing my undergrad, and then he ended up moving to Cal Arts. He’s a couple of years older than me, so he graduated and went to Cal Arts in Los Angeles. And, Chris and I played a lot together. He came and did his graduate degree here, and he and I sorta became fast friends and toured a bunch with another group, and have always stayed in contact. He moved to New York, and has just move back into town in, like, August or something. And so I was like, “man, I gotta get this dude on the record. We’ve played so much together.” And, Miguel – I lived in Colorado for a few years, and he started at school when I was in Colorado, but I was coming back and forth a lot, so I ended up hanging out with him a lot and playing with him a lot. So, yeah! They’re kinda my dudes.
Tom: Nice. Yeah, and so like, all these musicians you’ve played with for years now – for example; Miguel, on drums – Just last year, you guys played in the backing band at the Latin Grammys.
Zack: Yeah, Miguel and I – He’s in The Novelist now; that’s another band that I’m in – he and I played tons of gigs together, so we’ve played hip hop, and funk, and jazz, and blues, and whatever. All the kinds of music, so it’s definitely a comfortable group of musicians. Chris was actually kind of sight-reading the music during the recording session, and I mean, he killed it.
– Music break –
Tom: So, the track we’re listening to right now is called “Keyhole.” It is the fifth song on the record, and back in December, we recorded a live video with you guys at the Laughing Planet next to the University, and it was this track that you guys played. Can you tell us more about some of the tracks on the album, such as “Keyhole,” here; and really what inspired them, where they came from, and maybe a little bit on the recording process of these songs?
Zack: Yeah, actually, a bunch of those songs are inspired by the outdoors, and hiking, and some places that I’ve been to, so “The Keyhole” is actually a place. There’s a mountain in Colorado called Longs Peak, which is a fourteen-thousand foot peak of fourteen-thousand feet, and there’s a route that you can take called “The Keyhole Route.” And so there’s actually like, a rock with a big hole in it, and you have to go through that to ascend to the summit. And, yeah. So that song was inspired by that hike, and that particular thing.
Zack: Another track that’s completely not really a jazz tune – it’s more of like, a shoegaze tune – is called “When Our Hearts Were One,” and that was really fun to record. So, all of the quartet tracks – drums, bass, and two horns – were recorded live, but then I did some overdubbing after the fact. So that has like, twenty upright basses that I did all kinds of weird things with. And I took a lot of the horn parts and re-layered them, sort of recycled them through the tune. So in terms of like, production, that was a fun one to put together.
Zack: I like the song “Chasm.” I think that’s the second track. It’s kind of fun, it’s pretty difficult to play… Lots of time signature changes and weird stuff, but everybody kind of has like, a featured solo in it.
-Music break –
Tom: If you’re just joining us, we’re listening to “Chasm” by The Zack Teran Group, and their latest release, Portalis. So, Portalis is a very local record; all local musicians – and you produced, engineered, and mastered the entire record. It’s so DIY, it’s so in the spirit of Reno. I love it. The record also got picked up by a label. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Zack: It’s on Orenda Records, which is a small record label that, actually, a lot of other UNR graduates have albums out on, or are part of projects that have albums out on that. Max Cuttner’s one of them, Sam Minai’s another, Caleb Dolaster… Yeah, so it’s kind of cool actually, because it was completely DIY, and I sent it out, and it got picked up! And, yeah. I’m just, you know, a broke musician (laughs), so I decided to use all of my skills.
Tom: Can you tell us more about Orenda Records?
Zack: Orenda’s a small record label. It’s run by a guy named Dan Rosenboom, who is a pretty spectacular trumpet player, and he plays all over. He was on, like, the latest Star Wars soundtrack and all kinds of stuff. He’s, like, a total awesome trumpet player. But yeah, the label’s small, and I think his whole thing was just to help push some friends of his in smaller bands that don’t necessarily have the means to get their, sort of, ‘jazz name’ out there. And, yeah, just kinda help in that regard. Adam Benjamin is a keyboard player here in town. He teaches up at UNR, and he has an album on there. So, yeah, it kind of helps – We’re all bolstering each other, and making each other sort of more legitimate.
Tom: So true. I hope being a part of Orenda Records can really help, you know, get the word out about this record, so more people can hear it, and really hear about the awesome music that’s coming out of Reno right now. So, yeah! Thanks for coming in, Zack. And for the listeners out there, you can check out The Zack Teran Group anywhere you get music; and their first record, Portalis – that’s P-O-R-T-A-L-I-S. Thanks again, Zack. To close out the set, to close out the interview, we kind of wanted to hear what you’re listening to. What music is Zack Teran listening to lately?
Zack: I’m a big fan of, like, fusion music. I’m an electric bass player, so I’m obsessed with Jaco Pastorius. There’s an album by Weather Report called “I Sing the Body Electric” that I’ve recently been checking out, and Jaco’s actually not on that album, but I checked out that band because of him originally, a long time ago. And there’s a song called “Crystal” on there that’s… Very strange and beautiful (laughs).
-Music break –
Tom: Okay. For the second track that Zack Teran has been listening to recently, what do we got?
Zack: There’s this great guitar player named Rafiq Bhatia. He’s about to drop a new record… I’m not sure when it comes out, but he put out one song from the album, and it’s called “Hoods Up.” He plays in a group called Son Lux, as well, and has some cool jazz records under his own name; but, yeah. That song, I think he dropped it three days ago… And it’s so groovy, and so cool, and the production on it is very cool, and his writing style is very specific to him, you know? It has a signature that’s his own.
-Music break –
Tom: And for the final track of what Zack Teran has been listening to lately, what do you got?
Zack: Yeah, so, since my album is coming out on Orenda Records, I’ll give a shout out, actually, to another album that just came out on that same record label. It’s actually a former UNR student and Reno native Sam Minai; he’s playing bass on it. Dan Rosenboom, who runs the record label, is on it, and they have a group called Quoan… I actually don’t know how to pronounce that, but the song “The Last” off of that album is really cool, and it came out I think last week, so… Some brand new music. And it’s cordless jazz quartet, so it’s pretty cool.
-Music break –
Outro: Hey, this is Zack Teran. You’re listening to KWNK, 97.7 FM.
Thanks to Sophie Mia for providing this transcript.