The energy is pretty serious up there on stage. At the time Warner Brothers was going to record a live CD, it was going to be my second release for Warner Brothers. Of course, that never happened because Warner Brothers folded their jazz division. Almost all of the artists on the label like myself, Joshua Redman, Nicholas Payton, Brad Mehldau and Pat Metheny, we all had to scramble to make some new plans. I still wanted to do a live album, but now of course, the original plan of recording at Yoshi’s [Oakland, California] had to be put on the back burner a little bit.
I kept thinking about different record labels that were out there, which there didn’t seem to be too many that were interested in letting artists really kind of experiment and be able to create any kind of music that you want to create. Andy Hurwitz from Ropeadope and I started talking because I have had a relationship with Andy for many years because of the album that we did with Questlove; The Philadelphia Experiment. He said, “Listen, why don’t you do it for Ropeadope, and that made perfect sense. I said of course we should record this album for Ropeadope, so we set the plan in motion.
We were going to record a live CD and we were going to do it at Tonic. The original plan was that we were going to record a double CD… to have the first CD be the best performances of just the band, and then the second CD was going to be kind of like a combination of what became the second and the third CDs.
Live At Tonic, was supposed to be one CD. It was just entirely too hard to try and edit it together, so Andy said, “Well, let’s just put out three CDs.” I thought that he was a bit nuts in the beginning because I thought that three CDs were a bit much. Andy said that he believed in the concept of people getting some good music, you know, pay fifteen dollars, the price that you would pay for one CD and get three instead for the price of one.
Just on that alone, I think that people will be appreciative of that. Musically, they can feel what they want, but I don’t think that anyone will listen to these three CDs and not like it. I don’t think that is going to happen, so I told Andy, "Well, right on!” And that is what we wound up doing.