“I am in a phase in my life where I am trying to connect with and develop relationships through the music around the globe, any where there are people that can benefit from the positive and universal power of the music. In a time where so much of the world is trying to divide us from one another, I believe this is of the highest importance.” - Ted Chubb
For Ted Chubb, the phrase “gratified never satisfied” defines a credo, an approach to life that, like jazz, is handed down, absorbed and practiced daily. Gratified Never Satisfied is also the title of the trumpeter, composer and bandleader’s newest release. Again like jazz itself, which has evolved and grown in countless directions through the generations, the notion is one that’s learned, personalized and fine-tuned.
“Gratified Never Satisfied is an idea taught to me by the great trumpet player and teacher William B. Fielder,” Chubb says. “The concept is that gratification comes from living with a curious and dedicated spirit of growth to your life’s work. We can only grow or decline, we cannot maintain; to maintain is to die. We must live with the curiosity of a child in order to continue with that intensity of growth, living in each moment in a state of flow and delight, relishing every discovery as a brand new world of exploration. Through this spirit we may achieve happiness and gratification.”
Chubb expounds further: “I am inspired by many creative and passionate people from a variety of disciplines whether it be musicians, visual artists, designers, writers, film directors, teachers, craftsman, chefs or even business people, producers or organizers. I believe these individuals are able to deeply live each and every moment to the fullest and are guided by a common thread. As soon as we are satisfied with where we are we can no longer grow and improve.”
Certainly the constant growth in Chubb’s artistry has been demonstrable. Recorded in New Jersey with the Ted Chubb Band—Bruce Williams (alto saxophone), Seth Johnson (guitar), Oscar Perez (piano and Fender Rhodes), Tom DiCarlo (bass) and Jerome Jennings (drums)—Gratified Never Satisfied marks a new phase for Chubb following his two previous releases, New Tricks and Alternate Side.
The album, produced by Chubb, sports an even number of original compositions and interpretations—four each. Of his own pieces, Chubb says, “Most of the original tunes I had written for a while but they did not take their shape until this band began to work. The cover songs were tunes that I truly felt meant something to me, tunes I had lived with for quite a while and that I had an original story to tell on. In general I wanted to introduce to the world who I was as a person and what I hold dear to me, what I had to say as an artist, and who I aspire to be.”
The title track, “Gratified Never Satisfied,” says Chubb, “is a dedication to Fielder and to those of us that spent time with “Prof,” who has left a deep legacy in the trumpet and jazz world, having taught such artists as Wynton Marsalis, Terrence Blanchard, Terrell Stafford and Sean Jones, to only name a few. I felt that this song got to the feeling of his aura and his idea of being ‘Gratified Never Satisfied.” The track “Space,” he says, “was written in a time in my life where I felt very boxed in. I was yearning for more creative time to invest in myself as well as my personal relationships. I have also always been very interested in the unknown and have been inspired by people who embrace that unknown in order to find an individual path forward. There is no greater metaphor for this than outer space, which holds a great deal of wonderment to me.”
The third original, “Little Sid,” he says, “is based around a drum lick played by the legendary Big Sid Catlett. The idea that a piece of jazz vocabulary used in the late 1930s is as relevant and of the moment in 2017 is a testament to how powerful is the jazz language. Musically, I am very inspired by the drums more than any instrument. Jazz is rhythm-first music and I have always been fascinated by the connection between the drums and the trumpet and the pairings of the greats on those instruments, how they play together, complement each other and inspire one another.”
Finally, there’s “Tuesday,” inspired by Chubb’s wife. “We all have moments in time or days that are particularly reflective of where we are and where we would like to be,” he says. “I remember taking a walk in Paris with my wife on a particular Tuesday where all felt as perfect as I could ever desire, while at the same time deeply reflecting on where I was in my life and where I yearned to go. Traveling allows me to reflect more than any other activity in my life and I have been fortunate to travel around the globe, often with my wife. Many times these experiences are quite humbling and challenging yet provide a push to move forward in my life and provide a new lens for me to view myself from.”
Regarding the cover material, Chubb’s influences are represented by four tunes that reflect his state of mind on the same level as his own compositions—three of them, he says, were also inspired by his wife. “East of the Sun,” a standard penned by Brooks Bowman in the ’30s, “always had a dreamlike and ethereal quality to me,” he says. “The lyrics to this song tell a story of two lovers dreaming of the perfect and idyllic place where they can live out their lives in a utopic paradise, in a place that is so perfect it is not of this world.” The second interpretation, “My Ideal,” also from the 1930s and first recorded by Maurice Chevalier, “tells the story of boy strolling down the street dreaming if he will ever find the girl of his dreams, the one who is his ideal. I have always known I had found my ideal and it is not lost on me in any way that my life is a thousand times better because of it. This tune has always had a childlike quality of young love and the purity and innocence of it. I wanted to get to the core of that feeling in a way, with the sound of the guitar replicating a music box.”
Wayne Shorter’s “Adam’s Apple” attracted Chubb because of his deep admiration for the composer, a fellow resident of North Jersey. “I have always had a deep respect for Wayne Shorter and his music as well as his philosophy on music and life and his being able to combine a blues feeling while searching for new sounds,” he says. Lastly, there’s a Willie Nelson song, “Everywhere I Go.” Says Chubb, “The very first time my wife and I were going to have to spend an extended period apart she sat me down and played ‘Everywhere I Go’ and sang along. As we have continued throughout our 15-year relationship, spending time in different cities and continents, this song still rings true and is very close and special to us. It is ‘our’ song.”
Of course, the collective of musicians who assisted Chubb in the realization of Gratified Never Satisfied deserve major credit, and he is all too pleased to heap praise upon them. “This band is a collection of people very important to me. Each brings a distinct personality to the music,” he says. “I have known and been playing with each of them for well over 10 years. When I write or choose music for the band I am inspired by each member’s musical strengths and what they might bring to the tune, what kind of vibe they possess as people that will shape the music. I am very conscious that when I bring in music I leave space for them to interject their own personalities to create the final arrangement. We each have our roles: I am the storyteller, Bruce is the inspirer, Seth is the on-the-spot arranger and producer, Oscar is the inventor, Tom is the navigator and Jerome is the driver.”
In addition to creating his music, Chubb places a high value on work as an educator, primarily with the New Jersey organization Jazz House Kids. “They are ardently dedicated to creating a musical home for and providing access to all students who want to learn how to play jazz,” he says. “I, as they do, believe jazz is a powerful art form that is our most reflective and powerful creative force. I have seen it change countless students’ lives through Jazz House Kids and I am honored that I have gotten to play a major role in that.”
The teaching and the playing are all part of the same drive to gratify. Says Chubb, “I am in a phase in my life where I am trying to connect with and develop relationships through the music around the globe, anywhere there are people that can benefit from the positive and universal power of the music. In a time where so much of the world is trying to divide us from one another, I believe this is of the highest importance.”