Track premiere: Dana T’s “When I Trust The Written Word”

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Dana T performs at Mission Creek 2018. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Dana Telsrow, who works as an engineer at Flat Black studios, has released several albums of his own songs as Dana T. He also records and performs with Karen Meat. He’s a busy guy, with some big musical ideas.

The pair of instrumental songs, the recently released “YouTube For Self-Help Idiot” and “When I Trust The Written Word,” out tomorrow, July 19, are distinct from Telsrow’s better-known work on fractally splintered pop songs. They’re both songs developed for an instrumental jazz ensemble, a format Telsrow explored deeply while studying in the University of Iowa School of Music.

Telsrow has graciously allowed Little Village to premiere “When I Trust The Written Word.”

These two pieces are quite unlike Dana T’s usual output, with its overlay of philosophical lyrics. “When I Trust The Written Word” has a strong melodic line throughout, delivered in unison by piano and vibraphone. Without lyrics, it conveys a wistful yet optimistic mood. There is a groove going on, but it’s not a James Brown repetitive thing; it’s organically a part of the composition, embedded in every chord change and note of the melody.

The origins of the two instrumental songs came essentially from vocal song idea that took a left turn. “I initially came up with the harmony and melody by playing and mumbling into a voice memo on my phone. Wrote a small passage of words … After revisiting it a few times without notice of the lyrics, I now heard it as a small jazz combo,” Telsrow said. “I knew exactly who I wanted in the ensemble. I sent them the original voice memo and a lead sheet and we got together at the studio without rehearsal and hashed it out on the spot.”

The players:

Piano, Guitar — Dana Telsrow
Vibraphone — Forrest Heusinkveld (Uniphonics, Diplomats of Solid Sound)
Organ — Eric Hurlin (SoulMath, Apocalypso Tantric Boys Choir)
Wurlitzer — Michael Jarvey
Bass — Hannah Marks (Heartland Trio)
Drums — Justin LeDuc (Jack Lion)

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