Like many bands working in the jam band realm, the guys in Tauk see distinct differences in what they do in concert and what they try to achieve on their studio albums.
The live show allows the four musicians in this all-instrumental group to improvise more and let the songs open up and go in unpredictable directions. The studio albums have leaned toward highlighting the compositional skills of the band members, and songs have been more tightly arranged.
But guitarist Matt Jalbert said with the band’s nearly finished third studio album, he has started to see places where the separate worlds of Tauk on stage and Tauk in the studio have started to blend.
“I think it’s something we really want to find the right balance on, especially on the (studio) albums because we spend a lot of our time writing songs and you put a lot of work into that and you want that to show through,” Jalbert said in an early March phone interview. “But we’ve also been playing a lot of shows, and (during) a lot of shows we’ve been really conscious of what we do when we improvise.
“I think actually, on a couple of songs, I would say that (improvising) even lent itself to the songwriting process, where we would have an idea and be working on it,” he said. “But we’d kind of improvise a little bit and then go back to listen to it and go ‘Oh, this thing we kind of stumbled upon is really cool.’ Let’s figure out a way to work that into the song itself so that it kind of becomes songwriting and improvisation kind of melded together.”
There is a long history to Tauk, especially among three of the four members. Jalbert, bassist Charlie Dolan and keyboardist Alric “A.C.” Carter have been friends for a decade and a half – since their middle school years in Long Island, N.Y. Drummer Isaac Teel completed the current lineup in 2012.
The newest source for hearing Tauk’s melodic fusion of rock, funk, hip-hop and jazz is a 2015 two-disc live release, Headroom, which pulls most of its material from the two studio albums (Homunculus and Collisions) released by today’s edition of Tauk. Headroom showcases the variety in Tauk’s music. There’s the dreamy, jazzy rock of Mokuba, hard-hitting rock on The Chemist and the jazz-tinged prog rock of Tumbler. As one might assume, the band incorporates a good deal of improvisation that doesn’t exist on studio versions of some songs.
Now Tauk is back on tour, mixing in headlining shows and opening slots for Umphrey’s McGee. They’re playing the Major Rager after party with members of Umphrey’s McGee on April 7 at Sky City. See skycityaugusta.com.