Alex Hand Band | The Fast Crusade

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World: Eastern European Jazz: Gypsy Jazz Moods: Featuring Guitar
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The Fast Crusade

by Alex Hand Band

A guitar-led, progressive rock/jazz expedition into the traditional music of 20th century Eastern Europe.
Genre: World: Eastern European
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Sarbas: Trestiana / Spooky Walk / Campulung
6:23 $0.99
2. Geamparale
2:24 $0.99
3. Dragon's Dream
6:21 $0.99
4. The Girl of Shalabiya
4:51 $0.99
5. Mosnegeasca
3:38 $0.99
6. Rambosilkovo Horo
3:09 $0.99
7. Romanian Horas
4:39 $0.99
8. Father's Dance / The Engineer
3:50 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
The Story of The Fast Crusade

In early 2019, my five year adventure living, performing and teaching in the San Francisco area was coming to a close. The band’s lineup had changed several times since our debut album, Traders of the Lost Arts, and the core trio were all living in the East Bay.

I had played semi-regularly over the years at an indoor/outdoor venue called The Cigar Bar & Grill in downtown San Francisco, between the Financial District and North Beach. The musicians would carry our gear down two flights of dark, metal stairs from the street into a roofless, underground courtyard of tables and water fountains beneath the night sky. Straight ahead were big wooden doors that fastened open to reveal an indoor room where the band would play for the people at the tables and bar. There was live jazz every week and I played with a number of ensembles, usually as a sideman-for-hire.

Sometime in 2017 I played Cigar Bar with Danny Cao’s Latin jazz group, the Du Uy Quintet, and the bassist in the lineup was Chris Trinidad. He played a six-string electric bass with a tone closer to an upright, and he brought in a tune for us to play that I liked. In mid-2018 I recorded on Chris’s world-jazz album, Chant Triptych 2, with other California-based musicians. Chris joined the Alex Hand Band in late 2018 to work on this album after our previous bassist, Gabe Case, left to focus on salsa music.

Our repertoire had evolved over the previous year to include more original material. Isaac and I had been playing this Eastern European dance music for a while and had settled into a style that was an intersection of folk, jazz and progressive rock. We wanted a tighter, up-close drum sound in this recording and Isaac suggested a studio where he had tracked an album with another band near San Pablo Ave in El Cerrito, a couple miles from where I lived. Between March and May, the trio had recorded the eight tracks on this album.

I left California in June to pursue my master’s degree in jazz performance at the University of North Texas. Days before I left, Chris and I started mixing the tracks in his home studio, without keyboards, which Kevin planned to record at his home studio in North Bay and send Chris before a final mix-down. I had already spent time with Kevin brainstorming tones and structure for the organ and accordion parts.

Over the next two months, we did the dance of Chris e-mailing us .wav files of bounced mixes, Isaac and I listening on our headphones and computers, commenting, and Chris remixing and re-sending. We danced this dance so hard that Chris had to be hospitalized. By August 1, 2019 these tracks were finally mastered and ready to release as I was moving into an apartment in Denton, TX. It is a twenty-first century album, mixed via social media messaging and streaming audio. I had spent July staying with friends in Fort Worth, one of whom helped me make the album cover.

Two of my complete, original compositions appear on this album. One is “Dragon’s Dream,” which started out as a melody I wrote on tambura, sitting by the ocean at Berkeley Marina after I had come back from studying music in Bulgaria. It became a six and a half minute prog rock expedition with synth guitar and drum solos in 11/8 time, and is Isaac’s most featured moment on the album. The other is “The Engineer,” titled autobiographically after the process of trying to finish composing it, set in a medley with “Father’s Dance,” a tune I learned from my friends Zlatko Burov and Tihol Mutafov in Bulgaria.

Most of the other music presented here is traditional folk dance music from Bulgaria and Romania, and as such this album is part two of what we began on Traders. The guitar solo sequence on “The Girl of Shalabiya” (an old Arabic song: “Al Bint el Shalabiya”) is an Alex Hand Band original addition, as is “Spooky Walk,” the hip hop jam in the middle of the sarba set.

This music is the product of what I did with my life in those San Francisco years. In it, I hear the chemistry between the musicians who found their way collaborating on a project that had no predetermined aesthetic formula to follow, and I hear the musical knowledge we all gained from studying jazz and foreign traditional music being put to use in an unexpected way that makes me smile.

-Alex Hand, August 2019


-Alex Hand: guitars, synth guitar (tracks 1 & 3), tambura (tracks 3, 6 & 8)
-Chris Trinidad: bass guitar, synth bass (track 6)
-Isaac Schwartz: drumset
-Kevin Gerzevitz: keyboard, organ, accordion
-Faisal Zedan: darbuka (track 4)
-Danny Cao: trumpet (track 7)

Produced and mixed by Alex Hand and Chris Trinidad at Elemental MusicWorks in Pinole, CA.

Recorded by Akiyoshi Ehara at Sleepy Wizard Studios in El Cerrito, CA.

Mastered by Andro Ernst at Art of Ears Studios in Hayward, CA.

Album cover by Alex Hand and Aaron Bowyer



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