Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX music professor Jake Hanlon releases new album—with special meaning 

June 7th, 2021
StFX music faculty Jake Hanlon

StFX music professor Jake Hanlon has a new album, “NSTX,” coming out June 15th—a special project with the Hanlon Brothers Quintet that he says has been a lifetime in the making. 

“The album features my colleague, (StFX music professor) Paul Tynan, and as great as he is, the greatest part of this project is the album is a collaboration between myself and my brother, Josh, who is an alumnus of StFX’s music program, as am I. We’re also both alumni of the University of North Texas’s jazz program and grew up here in Antigonish.

“It’s a special project and I’m excited to get the album released,” says Prof. Hanlon, who teaches history of popular music, jazz composition, jazz guitar and music theory at StFX. 

NSTX will be released on Armored Records and will be available for purchase at Apple Music, CD Baby and Amazon and available for streaming all over the world wide web. In the album, the brothers, who have spent their lives making music together and apart, have collaborated on a release of six new compositions and one traditional folk song. 

The project features Josh Hanlon on piano, Jake Hanlon on guitar as well as Paul Tynan on trumpet and flugelhorn, James Driscoll on bass and Stockton Helbing on drums. The project was recorded in Denton, Texas and mixed at Lakewind Sound Studios in Cape Breton, NS. 

“The music is modern jazz with a pretty heavy focus on original composition Josh contributed two original compositions (Laws and If Lyle met Lilly) and four from myself (Moments, Sight, Not before Noon and Waiting) as well as an arrangement I did of Spancil Hill, a traditional Irish song our father would sing for family gatherings and just around the home, a special song to my heart.”

Prof. Hanlon says they recorded the album a few years ago, however, their non-professional lives went through some changes that delayed original plans, including Josh and his wife welcoming children. 

Prof. Hanlon says he was always confident they would be able to complete the work. “I’m especially excited since the pandemic has really eliminated any performance opportunity, and now at least I get to share this project as we begin to turn the corner towards perhaps having live music again.”

It is also special on a personal level. 

While he says growing up in a musical home, it’s common for siblings to play a lot of music together, he and Josh did not play together often. “I came to music later in my teenage years, by then Josh was already a virtuosic player, he left home before I really made a connection to jazz music. However, off and on in our young adulthood we would play a gig or get together and play when he was home. Eventually I followed Josh to Texas where he was finishing his masters at the University of North Texas, which is where I did my own masters degree. We talked about doing a project often at that point, eventually it was decided to be a priority. Josh is truly a world class player and as a guitarist and composer he fits right into the pocket I want in terms of his style of accompaniment and his voice on the instrument, for me it made the whole project very special.

“The project truly is a lifetime in the making.” 

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