Columbus guitarist/multi-instrumentalist David Kaplan recently released an album entitled Same Room, Different Hotel, “a throwback to 50’s and 60’s, swanky, space-age pop stylings” composed while traveling the world and recorded with Columbus’ own Dave DeWitt, Jim Ed Cobbs, and Louis Tsamous, plus former Columbusite Bill Barner. Kaplan provided some background: “I was inspired by current musicians like John Zorn, Bill Frisell and Mark Ribot, as well as Martin Denny, Les Baxter, and various 60’s lounge and surf cats. I tend to have trouble fitting neatly into genres, and basically just write and play stuff that sounds good to me — jazz, rock, surf, latin, blues, whatever.” Keep reading for more on Kaplan’s Columbus jazz history, my thoughts on this diverse album, and purchase details.
Kaplan: “I’ve been in Columbus since 1974 and graduated from OSU with a degree in fine arts. I played music full time until around 1990. The guys on the record are some of my oldest pals. Louie [Tsamous], Bill Barner and I played in Terrestrial Bop in the early 80’s and later Louie and I played in my band Arcade where we were joined by Dave DeWitt, Jeff Ciampa, Steve Willis and sometimes Paul Brown, Jim Maneri and Gaylord Dubois. Mark Flugge even did a couple of those gigs. We did a lot of my originals in both bands. Around ’90, I started doing music part time, and essentially have since made my living traveling the globe doing a solo comedy/magic/vaudeville act – Here is the current version. The band gigs I’ve done (since starting my solo/magic act) consist mainly of playing steel drum with The Sun Kings, and for about the last 10 years I’ve done occasional guitar duo gigs with Dave DeWitt. A few years ago, I started taking a travel guitar on the road and wrote songs in hotels.”
Same Room, Different Hotel is indeed difficult to pigeonhole as “jazz” or any other precise genre, but definitely features flavors and performances that will please the ear of the adventurous jazz listener. Opener “Jake the Shake” kicks off the proceedings with a sunny surf romp, highlighting Kaplan’s nimble guitar work and a bubbly organ solo from DeWitt. “Swami Song” captures a relaxed lounge vibe, with ample mellow percussion, some special effects, and spirited clarinet from Barner. The title track ably conjures the weariness that can accompany extended travel, but the smooth guitar lines also convey the sense of wonder of exploring the world. “Grado” ups the energy, mostly through DeWitt’s organ stabs and soaring solo, but the band also maintains a steady rumble. “Hopscotch” is a light and whimsical waltz, with Kaplan’s guitar navigating the sparser arrangement with ease, while “Desert Theme” bursts through with surf rock fervor and powerful percussion before an organ breakdown. “Malaysia 57,” which Kaplan wrote and partially recorded on his 57th birthday in a hotel near Kuala Lampur, starts with a solid bass and percussion base before Kaplan’s mystical guitar comes in on top. The seductive shuffle of “Borgata Logic” helps wrap up the album with Barner’s tenor sax and clarinet making excellent special ingredients.
The twelve tracks of Same Room, Different Hotel take the listener on an exotic journey around the world powered by excellent Columbus-honed musicianship, and are well worth your time exploring. The album is available on CD Baby, Bandcamp, and other digital and streaming services. A Columbus concert performance of the album is possible, so stay tuned!