The Huntertones Will Be Grooving With Friends at The Clubhouse - 27 East

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The Huntertones Will Be Grooving With Friends at The Clubhouse

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The Huntertones perform at The Clubhouse Hamptons on April 9 in a concert hosted by the East Hampton High School Jazz Band.  KARSTON 'SKINNY' TANNIS

The Huntertones perform at The Clubhouse Hamptons on April 9 in a concert hosted by the East Hampton High School Jazz Band. KARSTON 'SKINNY' TANNIS

The Huntertones perform at The Clubhouse Hamptons on April 9 in a concert hosted by the East Hampton High School Jazz Band.  KARSTON 'SKINNY' TANNIS

The Huntertones perform at The Clubhouse Hamptons on April 9 in a concert hosted by the East Hampton High School Jazz Band. KARSTON 'SKINNY' TANNIS

The Huntertones perform at The Clubhouse Hamptons on April 9 in a concert hosted by the East Hampton High School Jazz Band.  KARSTON 'SKINNY' TANNIS

The Huntertones perform at The Clubhouse Hamptons on April 9 in a concert hosted by the East Hampton High School Jazz Band. KARSTON 'SKINNY' TANNIS

The Huntertones perform at The Clubhouse Hamptons on April 9 in a concert hosted by the East Hampton High School Jazz Band.  KARSTON 'SKINNY' TANNIS

The Huntertones perform at The Clubhouse Hamptons on April 9 in a concert hosted by the East Hampton High School Jazz Band. KARSTON 'SKINNY' TANNIS

East Hampton High School Jazz Band during a performance conducted by Christopher Mandato. COURTESY EHHS

East Hampton High School Jazz Band during a performance conducted by Christopher Mandato. COURTESY EHHS

authorAnnette Hinkle on Mar 29, 2024

As a student at Ohio State University, saxophonist Dan White was a big fan of hosting house parties. But rather than cranking some out-of-control death metal music on the stereo and seriously annoying the neighbors in the process (as many a college student will do), White and his friends had a much different approach to providing the entertainment.

They performed it themselves.

“We were all students in college playing in jazz band — in the Art Blakey combo — but we basically wanted an outlet to play our own music,” explained White in a recent phone interview. “We had an apartment on Hunter Avenue in Columbus and started having house shows and would play for our friends.

“From humble beginnings in the basement, it then became legendary rager house shows playing music with and for our friends in a social atmosphere,” he added, “which is a driving engine for the band, and where the name comes from.

“We’re very grateful to our neighbors who were friends and didn’t call the cops.”

Today, that jazz band — the Huntertones — is based in Brooklyn, and though the group has performed the world over, it’s still made up of the same six musical friends who jammed together back at OSU — White on sax, trumpet player Jon Lampley, trombonist Chris Ott, bass player Adam DeAscentis, drummer John Hubbell and guitarist Josh Hill.

“None of us were in the same year — we graduated in different waves and came to New York, also in different waves,” White explained. “A few got their masters degrees. I taught band for a year in Columbus — I was a middle school band director. It was fantastic, but I knew I wanted to perform full time.

“We three horns moved together in March 2014, and the drummer, John, was already in New York studying at SUNY Purchase,” he said. “Josh, the guitarist, still lives in Columbus. We make it work, we fly him in for gigs.”

Like many ambitious people from the Midwest, for the musicians of the Huntertones, New York just seemed like the place they needed to be in their post-collegiate careers.

“For us, we were 21 and we just graduated and felt like we had accomplished a lot of our goals in central Ohio,” he said. “So we wanted to get to New York to pursue larger ambitions, which is pretty much what we’ve been able to do and is special as a full band.

“New York amplifies everything, both the good and the bad,” he continued. “Rent prices go up, but opportunities go up as well. Having your heroes playing night after night and you’re competing with them makes us reflect on, ‘What are we doing here and why are we here?’ Put up or shut up. It makes you galvanize as a band.”

And galvanize they did. The Huntertones, who are now a decade into their career, have recorded extensively and along the way, performed in 26 countries. Both as a collective as well as individuals, members have performed in the band O.A.R., and toured with Jon Batiste and Stay Human, Cory Wong, Lawrence and The Jonas Brothers.

“Now, touring has become a big part of our stories and experiences of triumphs and struggles,” said White. “That made it part of the band too.”

On Tuesday, April 9, East End audiences will have a rare chance to catch the Huntertones locally when the band comes to The Clubhouse Hamptons to perform its rousing blend of covers, jazz standards and original compositions. The show is being presented by the East Hampton High School Jazz Band, which will be the opening act for the evening.

“For the East Hampton show, there will be one substitute, for a clear reason,” said White. “Jon Lampley, the trumpet player, has a day job on ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.’ This landing on a weekday means it’s not possible for him to make it. But we have a great friend and sub we’ve traveled with, Gabe Medd from Juilliard, who we’ve met since we moved here.”

Original compositions make up 80 to 90 percent of the band’s repertoire, and when asked what motivates the Huntertones in writing those original tunes, White notes that having something unique to say is an important factor for the musicians.

“Almost everyone writes music, so it’s a group effort that continues to allow us to make new songs for every tour and new albums every year,” White explained, adding that some covers also find their way regularly into their sets. “And when we do arrangements of familiar music, we try to take it somewhere new. We’re an instrumental band, so we have to do something that new audiences can grab onto.”

Those more familiar names audiences might recognize at a Huntertones concert include Louis Armstrong, whom White calls “The father of all in terms of horn players and jazz musicians,” and saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter.

“Those are two of our North Stars,” White said. “Also The Meters – that’s a band we all really love and it’s a band in the truest sense of the word. Moving on to more modern players, there’s Roy Hargrove. One song we play that Jon [Lamprey] wrote is called ‘For Roy,’ and D’Angelo is another hero of ours. We’re working both backward and into modern music and also bringing our own music to the band.”

That broad and eclectic repertoire of the Huntertones was what first caught the attention of Christopher Mandato, East Hampton High School’s band director. Mandato’s been following the Huntertones for a while and, outside his day job, plays in Real East End Brass (REEB), a nine-piece New Orleans-style jazz band made up of a group of East End music teachers.

“I like [the Huntertones’] sound and the way they arrange things,” said Mandato, who is also the director of the East Hampton High School Jazz Band, a club made up of 23 student musicians where admission is by audition. He thought the Huntertones’ music would be a good fit for his jazz students, so he purchased the sheet music for two of their songs — “For Roy,” which the band performed during the school’s winter concert, and “Bird Song,” another Lamprey tune that the jazz band is currently working on.

“One of the appealing things about them is their arranging,” Mandato said. “The kids, as soon as they heard the music, said, ‘This is the style we want to play.’ It’s very modern — but not in an angular and nontonal way. It’s modern in the sense it’s appealing to modern day audiences, including young audiences.”

You could almost say that the Huntertones are the jazz ambassadors for the next generation.

“Engaging, is the word that comes to mind,” Mandato added. “They groove very well and it’s contagious. You can hear the groove and you want to play with them.”

And play with them they will. When Mandato realized his students connected so well with the band’s music, he was inspired to reach out to the Huntertones to see if there was any chance they might be able to come to East Hampton to perform here in person.

“At the end of last year, I called to see if it was possible and then I was able to get the funding to hire them and it fell in my lap,” Mandato said. “I booked them in the beginning of the year.”

Prior to Tuesday’s concert at The Clubhouse, the members of the student jazz band will take part in a workshop with the Huntertones. Finding opportunities for his jazz band students to play with professionals is something Mandato is eager to do. Last year, the teen musicians had an opportunity to open for Nancy Atlas during her concert at Bay Street Theater and it’s been Mandato’s goal to find additional similar opportunities.

“Having that live performance experience was really one of the moments I realized I’d like to do again,” he said. “The Clubhouse is being so generous to host us and allow this to be an evening. I want to get the kids the best live gigging experiences I can offer them.”

And because making music with friends is a long-standing tradition for the Huntertones, on Tuesday, the teen musicians from East Hampton High School Jazz Band won’t just be opening the show. They will also be joining the Huntertones on stage at some point in the evening to perform both “For Roy” and “Bird Song” together as one big band.

“It’s a thing we’ve learned, the collaborative nature of music,” said White. “Whenever we do shows or bills with other musicians, we make music together. It’s not one band plays and then the next. No, it’s, ‘Let’s rewrite a song or do a unique arrangement of it together.”

“Chris and I have a plan — it’ll be fun,” said White.

“I think they’re pretty excited,” added Mandato of his jazz students and their upcoming stage debut with the Huntertones. “But I’m not sure who’s more excited, me or them.”

The Huntertones and East Hampton High School Jazz Band perform on Tuesday, April 9, at The Clubhouse Hamptons. Doors open at 6 p.m., music begins at 7 p.m. Tickets $15 (cash or check) include an arcade voucher. Food and drink sold separately. All ages welcome. The Clubhouse Hamptons is at 174 Daniels Hole Road in East Hampton. For more information, visit clubhousehamptons.com.

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