Recorded in 2012 after a year of ongoing gigs with a working band molding and refining his unique musical vision, New York-based trombonist and composer Jared Dubin led his band into the studio to make what would become Excuses Excuses, an album that reflects on hardship, family, and the unforgiving pursuit of the arts. Armed with a distinct harmonic concept and an ensemble who first and foremost serve the music, Dubin’s debut leaves listeners awestruck, contemplative, and itching for more.
Excuses Excuses reflects upon both the harsh, unsympathetic nature of launching a jazz career in New York and on the tumultuous task undertaken by Dubin in marking a permanent milestone in the annals of his career with the formal release of a debut album. “Whether it be self doubt or a perfectionist attitude towards the project,” Dubin remarks, “its release has been delayed for some time.” While the expression from which the album draws its title may at first glance appear to have negative connotations, Dubin views it to have a more open meaning. “I think of it as a phrase that… can be interpreted in different ways by the listener,” he says. “Perhaps as a criticism of the current sociopolitical climate, or as encouragement for them to fulfill their own dreams and aspirations.”
Thematically, Excuses Excuses is a musical reflection on a period of hardship in Dubin’s life. From the difficulties and afflictions of city life, to the complexities of interpersonal strain exacerbated by a new environment, to navigating the tumultuous nature and roles of family in one’s life, Jared Dubin’s debut allows listeners to experience and empathize with the convoluted scenarios life presents from a new and elucidating perspective.
Musically, this album draws influence from post-bop, early jazz fusion, hip hop, and 1990s modern jazz. Specifically, Dubin cites jazz rock icon Steely Dan and acclaimed trumpeter Terence Blanchard as holding heavy influence over his music, both in performance and compositional styles. Dubin praises Blanchard’s “big, direct, warm sound,” and “his ability to swing on straight-eighth notes by phrasing with louder upbeats than downbeats” as key elements he
has incorporated and pushed further in his own playing. As a composer, Dubin admires Blanchard’s “memorable melodies on top of rich, interesting harmonies, and compelling bass lines.” Excuses Excuses opens with a track entitled “The Breaks,” whose inspiration and name comes from the continuous string of bad luck and negative situations Dubin experienced when first arriving in Brooklyn. With a strong melody, unique form, and distinctive vamp, “The Breaks” is a powerful opener and features solos from both Dubin and his lifelong friend and musical colleague, Nick Biello. The album also features an original composition that shares its name. The track “Excuses Excuses” utilizes a dirty, bluesy bassline as its foundation. The soulful harmony of the track features use of a Rhodes piano, electric bass, and Stratocaster, creating something that sounds halfway between the aesthetic of Steely Dan and the strong groove of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.
In addition to the album’s composer and bandleader Jared Dubin on trombone, Excuses Excuses features Nick Biello on alto saxophone, Syberen van Munster on guitar, Sebastien Ammann on Rhodes keyboard and piano, Russ Flynn on electric bass, and Danny Wolf on drums.
Jared Dubin’s debut album stands as a testament to the strength and indomitability of the human spirit and the vast effort and passion required for a master craftsman to create the art which so enraptures their soul. With
Excuses Excuses, Dubin creates not only an outstanding formal debut, but tells a tale of pursuit, determination, and strength of will that is transferred from his experiences into his music.
Excuses Excuses releases on Next Level, an imprint of Outside in Music on September 24th, 2021.