ThoughtCast members Ben Ehrich Graydon Peterson Jake Baldwin Joe Strachan standing

ThoughtCast’s NIMBUS IN MOTION out now!

November 18, 2022  /  News

ThoughtCast‘s debut album, Nimbus in Motion, takes inspiration from clouds in the sky developing into thunderstorms. Over the course of ten songs, listeners can hear the drama unfold from a morning mist to a tempestuous downpour. ThoughtCast’s sound is driven from the compositional stylings of bassist and bandleader Graydon Peterson, but also the use of electronics in all the instruments. The trumpet and keyboard often use effects pedals to modify their sounds, creating fuller, broader tones and adding more layers than just a solo voice. This concept was inspired by bands like Kneebody and even some bands outside the genre of jazz like Bjork or Radiohead.

Peterson has been a pillar of the Twin Cities jazz scene for the past decade and a half as a first call bassist for both local and touring acts. He has performed with Delfayo Marsalis, Gary Bartz, Francisco Mela, and Kneebody’s Ben Wendel. As a bandleader, he has released two previous albums with the Graydon Peterson Quartet. The remaining members are Jake Baldwin on trumpet, a bandleader himself, having put out the celebrated Where You’re Planted in 2021, Joe Strahan on keyboards and Ben Ehrlich on drums. 

ThoughtCast originated when Peterson started adapting his writing style to match the sensibilities of the players in this new ensemble, an adaptation of his previous quartets. Once he’d decided on the core members, tunes were then written to highlight each of their playing styles, like Baldwin’s sense of melody and pureness of tone, Strachan’s ability to create counter melodies while playing a supporting role, and Ehrlich’s incredible sense of rhythm, energy and contemporary beats. 

The opening track, “Feeling Unprepared,” gets its title from the sense of uneasiness it creates with multiple time signatures being played simultaneously. The song never quite stays with one groove for very long, but the melodies and harmonies keep listeners grounded. “Nimbus in Motion,” the title track of the album, was in fact composed as a musical representation of time-lapse footage of a growing thundercloud. The music starts small as pieces of the groove slowly get layered on top of one another, eventually forming a thunderous driving beat.

The fourth track on the album “For the Drum,” is an homage to a local rehearsal space that twin cities musicians have access to and that ThoughtCast has performed at. Jazz Central Studios, in Minneapolis, has a spot for donations that is literally a drum from a drum kit with a slot for money to slide into. ThoughtCast’s song about this drum unsurprisingly features Ehrlich, as the song is almost entirely a drum solo.

The Bellhop” is based on a dream that Peterson had. He explains, “I was a young bellhop at a hotel in the 1930’s. There was a band that played in the lobby that I really admired and wanted to one day sit-in with them. I eventually worked up the courage to ask them, and they agreed with one stipulation, that I sing and play cello. Even in the dream, I played bass and knew that the two instruments were very different, but I really wanted play with the band so I agreed. When I walked up to the the stage, for some reason I held the cello like a guitar and strummed out the first chord. which sounded quite dissonant. But instead of trying to correct the error of his chord, I kept strumming it and sang a melody that would fit into it.” “The Bellhop” opens with that very chord that Peterson played in his dream, a chord that sounds something like a mistake, and the melody on the album, is the very same as the one he sang in the dream.

The sixth track, “Found Myself Running,” describes the feeling of excitement one might get trying something new but also the anxiety not knowing whats going to happen next. To depict that state of emotion, the tune starts with a driving, but fragmented groove in 5/8 time giving it an uneasy feeling but still having forward motion. “When Logic Fails” was written as a musical depiction of a person trying to solve a major life problem. In the song, Peterson wanted to depict that using logic does not always give answers and that sometimes, intuition and emotion are better suited to the task. The “problem” in the tune is the opening theme, an aggressive musical pattern that never settles into one groove, constantly changing time signatures. Eventually the turmoil breaks down, as the hypothetical person in this scenario, takes a breath and reevaluates the situation. Here, in the song, the instrumentation breaks down to a piano solo; solo introspection. Coming out of this section, the music returns to an off-kilter 5/8 groove but this time, the trumpet melody breaks out of the repetitive melody figures of the earlier statement of the problem and instead soars over top of the groove.

The album was recorded over a couple of days at Minnesota’s famed Pachyderm Studios where the band was able to stay during the process, adding layers of effects and post production. Notably, the album was mastered by Kneebody drummer (and sometimes bassist) Nate Wood. The resulting sound is one of a band fully glued together and connected, deftly navigating complex material with power and drive, and the explosiveness of a storm. ThoughtCast delivers a remarkable “band sound” and debut outing on Nimbus in Motion.