“Death & Taxes” was originally written for Black Umbrella Brigade (a rock band I’m in). Our singer wanted a danceable, instrumental song, so I brought in this idea for an angular funk jam. It was too hip for the room, though, and we never performed it. However, I found that its heady, freely modulating chord progression worked well in a jazz band setting. When I formed Heisenberg Uncertainty Players in 2011—a big band that plays only original music—“Death & Taxes” quickly became a crowd favorite, and we traditionally use it to close sets.
This track is on our debut CD, Emergency Postcards, which was recorded with T. Duffield Productions over two Saturdays in a high school auditorium. Recording in this quasi-live setting certainly presented challenges, particularly in controlling the sound in such an open space. It ended up paying off for us, though; we got a nice natural reverb, and we were able to effectively capture the raw energy and organic nature of our live performances. What was unique about this track was that we ended up using significant portions from four separate takes in the final version. Other tracks on the album typically borrow from two takes at most but, since this was the final song we recorded, the band was somewhat looser due to mental exhaustion.
The title is a play on the Benjamin Franklin quote “the only sure things in life are death & taxes” … and an infectious funk groove.
Heisenberg Uncertainty Players is a 17-piece Chicago-area, big band, playing only original compositions and arrangements from the members of the group. Formed in 2011 the band has been featured around Chicago in venues like Martyrs’, Fitzgerald’s Nightclub and The Logan Center for the Arts. They have arranged a wide variety of music ranging from jazz standards and show tunes to versions of songs by Radiohead, Arcade Fire, 50 Cent, and other pop/rock artists.
With help from generous supporters, Heisenberg Uncertainty Players produced its debut album, Emergency Postcards. The album features seven original works with elements of funk, Latin jazz, hip-hop, classical and swing. Emergency Postcards has already reached the top one hundred New Releases in iTunes Jazz, and it was recently promoted through a live performance on WGN’s Midday News. The album is currently available on iTunes, Amazon, and CDBaby. Physical CDs can be purchased through the band's website.
On this track
John Dorhauer, Director, Producer
Tim Koelling, Alto sax, Soloist
Kelley Dorhauer, Alto Sax
Adam Frank, Tenor Sax
Vinny Starble, Tenor Sax
James Baum, Baritone Sax
Luke Malewicz, Trombone
Phil Arquette, Trombone
Xavier Galdon, Trombone
Steve Duncan, Bass Trombone
Tom Klein, Trumpet
Andrew Ecklund, Trumpet, Soloist
Jen Marshall, Trumpet
Jenni Szczerbinski, Trumpet
Chris Parsons, Guitar
Carl Kennedy, Piano
Dan Parker, Electric Bass, Soloist
Keith Brooks, Drums, Soloist
Travis Duffield, Tracking, Mixing, & Mastering
"Singletrack" is CAR's Artist Story for Chicago musicians in which songwriters and bands discuss a song and how it came to be alongside audio or video clips of the work. To submit your song for consideration, please email the music researcher.