Living Legacies

Jazz-jam Trio Cast! Hopes To Pick Up A '70s Groove

As a musician, it can be both a blessing and a curse to have a famous, successful parent precede you in the business. The members of the newly formed band CAST! - the Coryell, Auger, Sample Trio - are either thrice blessed or mightily screwed.

"We all have this stigma of being a 'kid,'" says the group's drummer, Karma Auger, on the phone from his home in Venice, California. Karma's the son of fusion organ god Brian Auger of Oblivion Express fame. "On the one hand, it's a great tool if we can use it as such. On the other hand, you always got to prove to somebody that you can do it too."

Completing the "kids" trio are guitarist Julian Coryell, son of the great fusion guitarist Larry, and bassist Nicklas Sample, offspring of jazz pianist Joe.

Each son has played alongside his pops - and continues to do so - which would seem to cover the blessing half of the equation; such a free education isn't exactly being offered to every musician who comes along. But while the three have been involved in their own, individual projects before this, they're still hungry to make a significant mark outside of their fathers' collective, cloud-like shadow.

"What we'd like to do is get [CAST!] to the point where it doesn't interfere with our dads' schedules," says Auger. "[So] we can still honor our parents and do everything they need us and want us to do, and somehow work this into the program too.

Maybe not the kind of shove it-up-your-ass, rebel spit you'd expect from the man laying down beats for a hard-driving jam band. But fear not - the trio's debut, Coolidge Returns, lives up to its name, delivering all the cool grooves you'd hope to find from fusion's salad days, be it Miles Davis' On the Corner or Introducing the Eleventh House With Larry Coryell.

Yet the boys don't get lost in the past. While full of funk, soul, blues and old-school rock (and yes - jazz), their sound never seems anything but modern - pulling from the past to push into the future. Coryell's lines work the band's memorable grooves into such free-flowing, body-bending melodies, you can't help but hit the replay button again and again. Which in turn treats you to the work of Auger and Sample - each listen gaining more room in your ear, becoming as integral to the whole as anything Coryell punches out.

"It's like when you look at an art piece," says Auger. "You can look at it from one angle and it's one thing, but when you walk around and look at it from another angle, you get a totally different picture.

Just don't run out to Wal-Mart (or even Music Saves) yet. By choice, the trio remains without a label, opting to hoe a more independent row. For now the album, self-produced and recorded in a live, jam-like setting in Coryell's studio, is available only on iTunes and CD Baby, and, of course, at the group's shows. According to Auger, it's what drives the whole project - an attempt to throw off the shackles of a restrictive and all-too-uncertain record industry, to just get the music out there and hit the road looking to dust up fans.

"I'm always excited to come to Cleveland," says Auger, noting how our city sparked his dad's career back in the early '70s and remains a key stop on Oblivion Express tours. Auger is hoping lightning strikes twice, with fans warming to such groovulous wonders as "Coolidge Returns" and "Rice Krispy Socrates," and doing for CAST! what a past generation did for his dad's band.

"I guess we'll see," says a reserved Auger says. "You never know what's going to happen."

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