Sax man Dave Laub stirs up a flexible force of funk
The revolving-door syndrome is nothing new for musicians trying to make a go of it, especially in the Vail Valley. Finding, acclimatizing and retaining fellow players is a challenge for anyone, especially those trying to play creative, original music.
Since 2002, local educator and tenor sax master Dave Laub has dealt with the ebb and flow of Valley musicianship by celebrating its frequently transient nature – and doing what he can to get as funky as possible with each ever-changing spin of the musical wheel of fortune.
Laub’s quintet, Flux5, celebrates the strange forces at work in band dynamics; he’s currently the only original member and he admits that things will probably continue to change, although he’s enjoying one particularly lengthy stretch with the same cast of band members.
“Every time we’ve replaced someone, we’ve taken a slightly different step in a new direction, so I tend to look for people with very good musicianship,” he says. “I’ve tended to focus on musicians I want to work with and blend in their talents.”
Flux5 began four years ago when Laub decided to make a concerted effort to create a band that would reflect the funky, jazz- and soul-influenced rock that he’d come to associate with New Orleans-based acts such as the Meters and Galactic.
“The whole thing was really sparked by my first trip to the New Orleans Jazz Festival … a band mate and I headed down there and caught a bunch of bands that I was gradually being turned onto. Seeing them in action was very inspirational … I’d decided that was the direction I wanted to go in, whereas I’d studied very traditional jazz and blues in college.”
Wading into the waters of funk fusion, Laub – who is now in his third year as performing arts chair for the Vail Mountain School – began recruiting like-minded, but occasionally short-lived, players.
“We knew our first drummer was leaving even before we started the band. ‘Flux’ means a flowing change and that’s been true … we were never sure who was going to be in the band or for how long.”
Laub’s current crop of players has kept things stable for quite a while (at least in band years); guitarist Matt Cheek dates back to a year after the group’s inception, keyboardist Andy Schmidt has worked with Laub for two years and bassist Richie Vazquez and drummer Scott Mattson are celebrating an entire year with Flux5.
This year has been a busy one for the group, including opening spots for Vinyl, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe and Galactic’s Stanton Moore, plus solo gigs in Denver and a winning performance at Frisco’s Fired Up Fourth of July battle of the bands contest.
Laub says a CD project is a possibility, but tends to favor the prospect of a live recording rather than a studio session – CDs tend to outlast Flux5 personnel.
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