By JOHN T. WARD
This may be the era of inescapable rap, but listeners his age are better versed in classic rock and pop than one might assume, Jake Tavill insists. Still, it’s hard to imagine many are as bone-soaked in the old stuff as the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional senior.
Evidence? On his return to school this week, Tavill’s likely to be the only kid with an album of lushly soulful songs under his belt.
Loaded with funky beats, horn arrangements and mellow vocals, ‘Indigo Child‘ marks Tavill’s entree into what he hopes will be a lifelong career in music.
Its 10 original songs channel Tavill’s love for “the three Kings” – Albert, BB and Freddie – as well as Muddy Waters, Al Green, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac. At the top of Tavill’s list of admired musicians, he said, is Marvin Gaye, who’s been dead for 20 years.
But a “good amount” of people in his age cohort are fans of the same things he likes, Tavill said. Only, because of the demise of album-oriented rock and the rise of the downloadable single, they may not be able to connect the sounds to the names of the artists.
“There are tons of groups people have never heard of,” he noted. “They love them without being aware of who they are. They’ll know the song, but not know the band or its other music.”
“I don’t think you can ever say a genre is dead,” he adds, in an interview at his family home. “No matter what it is, there’s a fan base that grows and shrinks.”
The son of Judi Tavill, a potter, and Mike Tavill, an otolaryngologist, Jake credits his keyboard skills to training that began when he was nine years old – “I’m pretty sure I wrote my first song that year,” he said – under the tutelage of Gregg Zubowicz, a teacher in Old Bridge. Guidance has also come from R-FH jazz teacher Bill Grillo, he said.
Not content to be solely a player, Tavill said he’s “always gravitated to the creative side,” and writes constantly, singing fragments of songs into his phone recorder as they’re taking shape.
“I’ll be in the shower, and lyrics will pop into my head, usually with the melody,” he said. “I probably get at least five of those a day.”
Making his album, which features more than a dozen musicians, involved Tavill traveling to Los Angeles to lay down basic tracks with producer Darryl Swann, an old acquaintance of his father. The bulk of the recording was done at Shorefire Studios in Long Branch.
Whether or not the self-released record catches fire with listeners, Tavill envisions eventually owning his own music label, putting together music festivals and cultivating a loyal audience for his work.
“I’d like to have a strong following of people who really like my music,” no matter how large that audience is, he said.
“I can’t really see myself doing anything else,” he added. “Music is energy in one of its purest forms. But it can also make a difference in the world. If you do well as a musician, you can do good.”