The further evolution of funk
DJ Greyboy, aka Andreas Stevens, first started working with saxophonist Karl Denson in the early ‘90s. But even back then, he knew their blend of beat-infused soul and funk was an evolution of sorts. And what started as a pair of San Diego musicians collaborating on a new sound ended up spawning the nearly 25-year careers of indomitable jazz quintet the Greyboy Allstars, and Stevens’ own run as a top-shelf beat maker (along with plenty of copycats along the way).
After spending the last decade in Long Beach, Stevens moved back to San Diego last year looking to start a new project. It was time for another evolution.
“I wanted to put together a new group,” Stevens told DiscoverSD from his Mission Hills home. “I wanted to appeal to the core sensibilities of people who are familiar with what I do, but also wanted to give them something new.”
It comes in the form of freshly assembled trio Taurus Authority. Having collaborated with singer/keyboardist Delmos Wade (aka Jud Nester) for the last six years, Stevens knew he had one piece in place, but wanted to expand their sound even further.
Enter local drummer Jake Najor. Stevens was long familiar with him through his brother, original Greyboy Allstars drummer Zak Najor. But Jake also has made a name for himself with multiple local bands, as well as studio work with everyone from Kelis to TV on the Radio.
“Creatively,” Najor said, “we all have the same mindset. And the three of us have great chemistry together. We’re cool hanging outside of music. Sometimes, with other bands, there’s just not that personal connection. So it’s good that way and every show is different. But we’re really still developing what we’re doing.”
With Stevens on turntables and real-time beats, Wade handling keys and talk box, and Najor rounding things out on drums, Taurus Authority adds its name to the long list of innovative San Diego collectives - even if it’s far removed from the project that started it all.
“It really has nothing to do with the Greyboy Allstars,” Stevens said. “But in a way, it’s a second phase. The musical spirit is very similar. We’re trying to get up there and smash the stage in the same fashion. We’re just using different tools.”
While the Allstars provided jam-band fans and jazz-heads a new perspective on over-saturated genres, Taurus Authority looks to do the same for those who love hip-hop and rare grooves. But they’re not out to exclude anyone, either.
“I’m trying to stick to my musical guns,” Stevens said. “But staying relevant and having people remain interested in what you’re doing is a difficult thing. I feel incredibly fortunate that after nearly 25 years of doing this, people are still paying attention. And since they are, I feel like I owe it to them to keep the evolution going.”
Taurus Authority plays every second Wednesday at Bar Pink and will open Lady and the Lion’s album release show at Whistle Stop on March 27.
Scott McDonald is a writer, on-air personality and consultant with 15 years of experience in the San Diego music scene. He has interviewed hundreds of artists, from the legendary to the underground, for print and television. Follow McDonald and his melodic musings on Twitter @eight24_ or Instagram @scotteight24. Send your music musts to firstname.lastname@example.org
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