Wavelength Breaks the Sound Barrier Cruzin' the Music Highway
"Jazz, funk, rock, R&B and Latin are amongst the different exits you can take on their musical highway."
The group Wavelength (http://wavelength.fmcompserve.com) offers the perceptive listener many different styles and textures from the colorful palette of the jazz genre to enjoy. Their diversity is shaped by the melting pot created out of the various cultural and musical backgrounds which each core member brings to the band. Add to that exciting mix contributing artists who themselves hail from around the world, and you have a unique Wavelength sound that cannot be easily pegged.
On their recent release Cruzin' the Music Highway the title of the album is portrayed literally on the cover with road signs indicating what style of music is 'enforced.' Jazz, funk, rock, R&B and Latin are amongst the different exits you can take on their musical highway. I heard some polished elements of pop in their sound as well, particularly when the tasteful female vocals were used to their fullest potential.
As a discriminating listener - who demands quality and variety - my report card is straight A's for this band. I never once had time to become complacent or bored with their music; each track came at me with a strong consistency and freshness that is a rarity in today's hit machine music industry.
The name Wavelength originated back in the 80's, since the musicians of the band at the time seemed to be on the same "wavelength"... musically playing jazz-fusion. The album cover concept was a collaboration between the band and TUI Designs, a graphics design company. The owner and designer happened to be a DJ at a radio station so he had many ideas for the cover. The original CD title was going to be "Relay the Message," the second track on the CD. The concept was difficult to cleverly portray on the cover so they decided to change it to "Cruzin' the Music Highway" (fourth track on the CD) which seemed more appropriate.
Ferdinand's musical beginnings trace back to his early days in the Island of Guam where his family moved to from their native Philippines. Like many youngsters growing up in his day the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Cream and Led Zeppelin contributed to his musical experience, which comes through on the progressive jazz-rock gem "Space Flight." Playing with various bands through high school further exposed Magallanes to other genres of music that ranged from Blood Sweat and Tears to Earth, Wind and Fire and Santana. The Santana influence, lovingly acknowledged on "Teardrops Fall," comes through with respect and clarity.
During his travels throughout the continental US and Hawaii, Ferdinand performed and opened for the likes of Coke Escovedo, the Brothers Johnson Band, the Temptations, Cold Blood, and Chubby Checker. After traveling, his musical tastes began to change and his influences soon included jazz artists Herbie Hancock, Chic Corea, Bob James, and George Benson. He then started the original Wavelength band in the 1980's and it has since evolved into the fusion of sounds and styles that it is today, with various San Francisco Bay musicians contributing over the years.
The songs that he writes and arranges are a product of his diverse, unique and continually evolving musical background.
Along with fellow Wavelength member Bobby Gaviola, Oscar became an original member of the seminal 70's Latin Rock band, SAPO. At this time, Oscar was thrilled to be driving in his car, and hear one of his songs on the radio. Even more flattering was hearing the disc jockey compare his playing to the great guitar legend, Wes Montgomery.
Like many artists that play with passion and the love for music in their souls, Oscar's motivation and joy comes from the feeling he gets while playing for an audience. When he gives himself through his music, he shares his soul, and when people receive his music and appreciate it, their energy feeds back into him and enhances his performance. The listeners become an integral part of the experience.
Marcus has been friends with fellow members of Wavelength for the last 25 years and thinks it has been a pleasure reuniting with them to create a hybrid sound that they all can enjoy. He has performed and recorded with Malo, the George Santana Project, Pete and Sheila Escovedo, blues singer Amanda Hughes, and Cesar's Band.
"Being categorized as a jazz band has both advantages and disadvantages. Musically we do not delve into these issues as we pretty much write and perform what we want."
Bobby is doing drum clinics for high schools and colleges to inspire young, talented musicians to pursue their dreams. He also plays with a jazz ensemble with musicians from college music programs and various symphonies. He has done music for television and radio commercials, ski films and film scores. Bobby has also performed and recorded with Pete Escovedo, Chuck Mangione, Sheila E. (Prince), Armando Perazza, Raul Rekow (Santana), Malo, Sapo, Greg Enrico (Sly & The Family Stone), Tony Menjivar (Quicksilver, Anita Baker), Poncho Sanchez, Tierra, El Chicano, Fania All Stars, and Ray Baretto.
A Few Words
"Teardrops Fall" sounds like Carlos Santana (whom you acknowledge in the song title and genre description), it is amazing. What are your thoughts on artists like Santana? Do you feel he has a one of a kind uniqueness in a world of copycats and wannabes? How difficult is it to separate yourself from others that are doing the same thing?
Ferdinand: Carlos Santana essentially spawned the Latin Rock explosion of the late '60s and '70s and opened the door for many artists that were in the same genre. His sound is considered unique because he was the first one to be discovered commercially and rose to super stardom even though other artists at the time had similar styles and sound. There are quite a few copycats and wannabes in the industry, which is a tribute to Santana's appeal. However, there are artists that possess the same inherent sound as Santana that did not occur from copying. Oscar Estrella is one of these artists that happen to have a similar sound. The difficulty in having a similar sound as another artist is that comparisons will always occur and your originality becomes questioned.
What we try to accomplish is to produce a sound that is a collaboration amongst the core members of the band and if the finished product is compared to Santana music, then we hope that listeners regardless of the comparisons will enjoy it. If the comparison gets the music heard, then we embrace it. That is all we can ask for.
Do you feel getting exposure, as an indie artist is difficult?
Ferdinand: Being an indie artist has inherent exposure problems. This is attributed mainly to the lack of financial resources to fund exposure related expenses. Airplay via the commercial radio stations and other mainstream media is pretty much out of the reach of Indie bands starting out. However, being an indie artist allows us to have some advantages such as complete creative control over our music and a great deal of independence that would be prohibitive if signed with the majority of the record labels. Exposure through the Internet, however, is an avenue that even indie artists can pursue with limited funds. Coupled with live performances and airplay from college and non-commercial radio, Indie bands can get some exposure to a limited audience.
The jazz genre is so much different from any other popular style of music, what are advantages and disadvantages being a 'jazz' band?
Ferdinand: Being categorized as a jazz band has both advantages and disadvantages. Musically we do not delve into these issues as we pretty much write and perform what we want. We categorize the songs to the closest genre available. With the jazz field being so wide and populated by many great artists, we have a great disadvantage in trying to carve a niche within the genre. The main advantage that we see is that since jazz is so wide a genre, we can cross over to various styles of music but still maintain some jazz sounds, and this is what we are trying to accomplish, and in the process carve a niche for our sound.
Hailing from the San Francisco Bay area provides a rich environment for playing music and the population there is very receptive to just about any type of music that an artist performs. Performances are very enjoyable for Wavelength. They are received well by their audiences, including new listeners. With their music well accepted, it is very easy to translate that vibe into a recording.
Having their music and band information posted on various Internet sites has helped Wavelength get some exposure to places that they would normally not have expected. Ferdinand added, "We are also getting some airplay from some College stations and several Internet only stations. An interesting note to date is that we are getting airplay in Cleveland, Ohio; Bridgeport, Connecticut, Cupertino, CA; and a commercial station in Guam."
Recently one of their tracks ("Sorry Sadness") was slated to be included in a CD compilation project to support a Cancer Foundation fundraiser. The CD compilation will include some well-known jazz artists as well as indie artists such as Wavelength. The CD, scheduled for release on June 25 in New York, will include airplay of the CD tracks at several NY/NJ stations. Cruzin' the Music Highway received a very favorable review from Muzikreviewz.com, and several of the tracks have been the "Track of the Day" at Garageband in both the funk/soul/R&B and Jazz genres.