by Minister of Information JR Valrey, SF Bay View Oakland Bureau
TBA is definitely one of the dopest young jazz bands that I have encountered in the Bay Area this year. I met them at D’Wayne Wiggins’ Compound, which is a famous venue in the heart of Deep East Oakland that recently closed.
I like TBA because their music and style of playing gives the listener a smokey Birdland jazz club Harlem vibe. It has that Monk-Mingus-Roach-Hancock-Davis feel. Their music is like a time capsule that can bring listeners to eras that were already completed before most were even a twinkle in someone’s eye. Although these are instrumentalists and they prefer to be called a Jazz Band, in my opinion the passion that they play with would make them a Soul Jazz Band, but I don’t think that that is a recognized genre.
Check out the trumpet player Elandis and the guitarman Nathan from TBA in their own words.
JR Valrey: Where did the name TBA come from? How does it relate to y’all?
Nathan Moody: To be honest I find the band name funny. When I tell my friends or show them a flier, they always ask, “So what’s the band name,” and I tell them, “it’s TBA” and laugh about it. I’m still unsure if it means “The Best Act” or does it stand for “The Badass Act,” “To Be Announced”? I don’t know. I imagine Elandis knows.
Elandis Brooks: I formed this band during the pandemic, when everyone was taking things day to day and nothing seemed certain. The spontaneity of improvisation is a lot like that; note by note, beat by beat, we piece together a story on the spot. The music is never the same; it is always To Be Announced (TBA).
JR Valrey: What kind of band are you? And how did the band form?
We are the storytellers of America’s history, from the chants of the Native Americans to the hums of the slaves, which then rang out through the Big Easy and across the world.
Elandis: We play music for you, by you. One of us has a funk background, the other rock, church another, of course hip hop, can’t forget the blues. Did I mention reggae, and I was raised in Nawlins, so you already know how that Gumbo.
Nathan: I would say the band is a jazz, funk, RnB , soul fusion rock band. The band was already formed when I joined, but I was invited by Jordan “Bird” Davis (the drummer).
JR Valrey: In the age of Hip Hop, what drove y’all to learn to play instruments and learn to play jazz?
Elandis: Where I’m from, Black American Music (BAM) is king. We are the storytellers of America’s history, from the chants of the Native Americans to the hums of the slaves, which then rang out through the Big Easy and across the world. I am one of our music’s many heartbeats, and it will continue to live on.
Nathan: Been playing the keys, singing and playing guitar since I was 5 or so, and I just never quit. No one else in my family can even sing, so it was something I had to really do for myself, just kept with it.
JR Valrey: Who are some of y’alls favorite jazz musicians? And why?
Elandis: Charlie Parker is King, Diz is supreme. I’m Miles’s twin and without Louis there’d be none of us. Greatest band leader and composer has to be the Duke. Art Tatum had the hands of Jah. These individuals showed you everything to do, and some even showed you what not to do. I aim every note to be reflective of their image. When people tell me the music sounds like the past, that’s what I do it for.
Nathan: Some of my personal favorites in the Jazz realm are George Benson, Etta James, Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Esperanza Spalding, Wes Montgomery, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Charles Mingus, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Chuck Berry, Grover Washington Jr., Chuck Mangione, Herbie Hancock, Isaac Hayes, Quincy Jones, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong, Kamasi Washington, Amy Winehouse, FKJ, Haitus Kaiyote, Phony Ppl, Yellow Days, Kharuangbin and many more.
When you stand outside and close your eyes and hear the wind blow through the trees, rustling of the reeds, crickets chirping, frogs croaking, that’s what live music is like.
JR Valrey: What is the difference in sound to y’all between live music and music that is made from inside of the computer?
Elandis: When you stand outside and close your eyes and hear the wind blow through the trees, rustling of the reeds, crickets chirping, frogs croaking, that’s what live music is like. When a group of strangers from different backgrounds who have all learned to talk on something other than their voice come together and have a conversation with each other and tell a story from their hearts built off of their histories and feelings, it’s nature, things coming together in perfect harmony. Everything else is an imitation trying to replicate what something is supposed to naturally sound like.
Nathan: With today’s technology, there’s some incredible art being made, but there’s one thing that they can’t replicate, and that’s the freedom live performance and real instruments have. You can capture some of the soul, but not all of it. The differences that can happen in a live setting are the mistakes that are really just happy accidents. The difference is just some things cannot be replicated.
JR Valrey: I know that TBA played at the Compound a few times. Now that it is closed, what does that spot mean to y’all? Why was it special?
Elandis: It is an honor and privilege to even have this spot. Out of the thousands of acts that have performed on that stage, we got chosen. I’m stoked! We’re going go out with a bang!
Nathan: I’m not the best person to ask this question, this will only be my second time playing this venue. I enjoy the artists there sharing their craft and hope that there is something that will be another home station for artists to create and share their craft.
JR Valrey: Where do you see TBA in the next five years as a group?
Elandis: In five years I see our kids playing together first at the playground, then forming a band themselves, a few albums and world tours under our belts, followed by nominations for movie and tv scores. You know the ushe.
Nathan: I see this band with a few albums out, a bigger fanbase and shows. Every member of this band is a bonafide badass at their craft and deserves the love they get.
JR Valrey: What is TBA working on currently?
Nathan: I’m trying to get us in the direction of recording some original pieces.
Elandis: We’re working on our debut album TBD (To Be Determined).
JR Valrey: How can people stay online with you?
Elandis: Follow us on Instagram @t_b_a_music, Facebook at TBA Fusion Band.
JR Valrey, journalist, author, filmmaker and founder of Black New World Media, heads the SF Bay View’s Oakland Bureau. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook. Visit www.BlackNewWorldMedia.com to read more.