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Ohio State trio goes across the field into the studio, jazzes up traditional songs

Courtesy of Jon Lampley

In an attempt to pay homage to the school that brought them “Carmen Ohio” and “Hang on Sloopy,” one Ohio State student and two recent graduates have revamped those traditional tunes.

Jon Lampley, a fifth-year in jazz studies, along with Chris Ott and Dan White, who are both alumni of the jazz studies and music education programs, graduating in 2011 and 2012, respectively, were inspired to produce an album of OSU favorites after Lampley and White attended an alumni banquet in Naples, Fla., in February. There, they played their own improvised rendition of an OSU fight song, “Fight the Team,” for a crowd of OSU alumni and faculty.

“We played it, and everybody loved it because they never heard that song done like that before. They were all like, ‘Man, where can I get a CD of that?’ and we were like, ‘Well, there isn’t one, but we’re working on it,'” said Lampley, who dotted the “i” during “Script Ohio” at three football games last season as a sousaphone player for OSU’s marching band.

With funding from a summer research grant on behalf of the Undergraduate Research Office and a mechanical license for the music from OSU, the trio hit the School of Music’s recording studio for a few days over the summer to work on the record.

Lampley, now a touring trumpet player for the platinum-selling rock band O.A.R., said the group wanted to get the songwriting, recording and production aspects out of the way as quickly as possible because there were other elements of the album that needed to be taken care of, such as the album artwork, promotion and obtaining licensing.

Mark Rubinstein, an audio engineer and the audio recording coordinator for the School of Music’s program in music, media and enterprise, oversaw the recording and mixing of the album.

“They showed up prepared, which made for an easy, fun time and good music,” Rubinstein said. “At first I thought, ‘This sounds crazy, but I’ll try it.’ But then they came in with the instrumentations and I was like, ‘This is groovin’.'”

Rubinstein, who has worked as an audio engineer for Cher and Mary J. Blige, said he’s built a great relationship with the trio and is excited for the project.

“They took something that people wouldn’t expect to work and made it work. Everyone on campus hears these same songs all the time, so it’ll be nice for everyone to hear them rendered in a different light,” he said.

The group worked with Rubinstein on a couple of other projects previously, including the Dan White Sextet, a jazz group that the friends take part in. These previous collaborations are what White believes made this one go so smoothly.

“This is the third album that we’ve recorded with Mark,” White said. “The fact that we’re really comfortable working with him and know his capabilities are what made this whole thing work.”

The recording of the album was a two-day process, consisting of an eight-hour session each day, and the mixing of the album was done two hours a day over the course of a week.

Lampley said the most time-consuming part was obtaining licensing and permission to use the image on the album cover.

Lampley said that the album, which is largely jazz-influenced. Musically and instrumentally, the album ranges from Lampley’s vocals, trumpet and sousaphone to White’s saxophone, clarinet and flute to Ott’s trombone and beatboxing.

“The recordings of these songs that exist right now are mostly of just the marching band’s arrangements, so we definitely wanted to go the opposite direction. Style-wise, we kind of did what we listen to, which is all across the board – from hip-hop to jazz to rock to funk to all that stuff – and I think it really came across on the album,” White said.

The group decided to record the album primarily as a tribute to OSU.

“The main goal was to pay homage to the school that educated us, and what better way to do it than to have an ‘i’-dotter write and arrange all the music that we grew up listening to?” White said.

Lampley said, despite already being a professional musician with O.A.R., the project helped him grow as a musician.

“This project was my first step into the realm of music production,” Lampley said. “I’ve written songs and performed live, but this was my first venture into actually having an idea, creating it, getting it out there and selling it.”

The album, which is titled “Fight the Team,” consists of seven classic OSU songs, such as “Carmen Ohio” and “Hang on Sloopy,” and was released Saturday. Copies are available for $10 at Barnes & Noble and Station 88 at the Ohio Union. Lampley said he hopes to sell it at other campus retailers. It is also available for download via iTunes and Lampley’s website jonlampleymusic.com.

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