Justin Varnes, Survival Instinct: the Evilution of the Pack

Drummer Justin Varnes developed his career in New York, touring with Icon Phoebe Snow, with whom he performed on the Roseanne Barr Show with Michael McDonald, Madison Square Garden, and National Public Radio's "World Café." He also performed with jazz greats and studied at the New School.

Now residing in Atlanta, Justin is a top-call sideman for touring artists, as well as an in-demand composer/arranger/bandleader.

Justin has performed with Mose Allison, Wessell Anderson, Kenny Barron, Peter Bernstein, Don Braden, Ann Hampton Callaway, Five for Fighting, Gavin DeGraw, Victor Goines, Wycliffe Gordon, Vincent Herring, Kevin Hays, Kevin Mahogany, Tony Monaco, Earl Klugh, Marcus Printup, Bob Reynolds, Lew Soloff, David Sanchez, Ira Sullivan, Sachal Vasandani, and Jimmy Vivino.

Survival Instinct: the Evilution of the Pack is an album designed to highlight a specific but basic human instinct that causes us to be violent toward each other while highlighting ways to conquer these tendencies and bring us together.

Fergimore Island, TX Blues is a show of support for the communities devastated by the deaths of African-Americans by police officers in several cities in a short amount of time, but also a show of support for the many police officers who serve and protect us who don't get enough national attention.

Tout Le Monde Aime La France was written for France, after they were victims of several attacks over a few months. The song's melody has several nods to jazz musicians who have lived or recorded in France. Many Sons highlights how many religions that have been violent toward each other are actually born out of the same beliefs. John Coltrane inspired this composition.

Thread (for Bryan Stow) compares the absurdity of violence due to wearing different team colors to other "packs" like religion and politics.
Red Mouse Blue Mouse is a "country mouse city mouse" commentary on politics. Bass plays the role of country mouse, while piano plays city mouse. Despite their diverse backgrounds, intelligent, sympathetic dialogue unfolds. Pulse supports the LGBT community after the attack on the Pulse nightclub.

Emanuel chronicles the attack and subsequent healing of the Emanuel church in Charleston, SC. The attack was meant to divide the community, but instead it brought them closer together.

The album is divided by a Prelude, Interlude, and Postude that introduces the themes used throughout the album and uses the "National Anthem" and "Lift Evr'y Voice and Sing" to comment on the struggle of equality in America.

It was recorded with no headphones, no overdubs, no splices: all complete takes with no touch-ups. As Justin describes it:
"No Genetically Modified Music."
1. Prelude 2:08
2. Fergimore Island, TX Blues 4:36
3. Tout Le Monde Aime La France 5:01
4. Many Sons 6:23
5. Interlude 0:27
6. Thread (for Bryan Stow) 6:06
7. Red Mouse Blue Mouse 8:57
8. Pulse 3:55
9. Emanuel 8:57
10. Postlude 1:45

Mark Rapp: Trumpet
Luke Weathington (as in "weather"): Alto
John Sandfort (SANDfert) : Tenor
Nick Rosen: Piano
Kevin Smith: Bass
Justin Varnes (rhymes with "Barnes") : Drum Set

write your comments about the article :: © 2020 Jazz News :: home page