The Hideaway Sessions

TriTone Asylum brings together some of the most experienced and collaborative musicians in Los Angeles. Philip Topping (electronic valve instrument), Ian Vo (saxophone) Andy Waddell (guitar), Mitch Forman (keyboards), Peter Sepsis (bass) and Dave Johnstone (drums) form the foundation of this accomplished ensemble.

A Life Of Signs Album Art

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Record Reviews

This is jazz, as surely as Hancock's Head Hunters was. And very hip… It is not all out there, collective improvisation or no. The average listener has surely come a long way, but Tritone Asylum will not lose folks raised on the Brecker Brothers or Pat Metheny. This recording will keep you listening hard, maybe for an elusive tritone. Whatever the case, the production is rocking and the rhythm section is especially locked in. Lots of fun.

— Richard Salvucci, All About Jazz

A versatility of style that many jazz bands never achieve… I loved it.

— Richard Metcalf, Contemporary Fusion Reviews

For fusion and modern jazz fans TriTone Asylum has plenty of heart and is very accessible for the average listener. There are markings of Weather Report in both a smooth and fusion jazz blend that spreads nicely across the soundscape. It is a pleasurable album that is a good friend for many joyous listens.

— Wesley Derbyshire, Musical Memoirs

TriTone Asylum delivers stellar keyboard and guitar performances and guitar-keyboard interaction. The excellent ensemble brings together some of the best players in Los Angeles. Their captivating style incorporates a wide range of influences, from irresistible funk jazz and Weather Report virtuosity to Pat Metheny sensibility, world music beats, and even Focus-style progressive rock elements.

— Angel Romero, Progressive Rock Central

TriTone Asylum collective is definitely doing their job. They creatively pull-off mixing electronic music with acoustic instrumentation. They blend the sound of the EVI and electric bass, like cream and coffee. Philip Topping’s EVI blows me away! Philip Topping’s tune, “Schizophrenic” snatches my attention with the funk drums of Dave Johnstone and the bass work of Sepsis. It reminds me of the “Headhunter” album days. The melody is catchy and dances between the keyboard and the horn lines.

— Dee Dee McNeil, Musical Memoirs

The Hideaway Sessions, the second album by the stylistically diverse and wildly adventurous L.A. based jazz fusion ensemble Tritone Asylum, doesn’t sound like any other contemporary work in the genre… those cats create nothing short of magic.

— Jonathan Widan, JW Vibe

Super tasty listening jazz that lifts you out of your chair, this set is the proof that it’s 5 p.m. Friday somewhere in the world right now.  Well done.

— Chris Spector, Midwest Record

‘Simple’ starts with his EVI and bass and gives way to a funky piece full of fusion. Twelve minutes of adrenaline recorded live… The whole group brings enthusiasm. Metheny's influence is noticeable in many passages on the album, especially thanks to Topping and his EVI, by creating textures similar to Metheny's synthesized guitar… Tritone Asylum also brings us reminiscences of Weather Report.

— Jose Ramon, La Habitacion del Jazz (The Jazz Room-Spain)

Off centered, The 54 Blues is one of my favorite tracks on the release with 5/4 time, and Topping leading the way on Electronic Valve over a tight drum cadence by Johnstone. Waddell breaks loose with a dynamic guitar solo that speaks nicely and Vo's sax solo is quite soulful. Forman lays in a great key solo, and precise guitar punctuation adds a nice touch.

— Bman, Bman’s Blues Report

Liner Notes

When trumpeter Philip Topping and guitarist Andy Waddell started jamming in the mid-2000s – soon to be joined by bassist Peter Sepsis and a keyboardist named Aubrey Scarbrough – it didn’t take long for them to realize how many heroes they shared. And when they decided to work together as a trio (after Scarbrough moved away), those mutual heroes provided the blueprint.

What is it that gives such icons, and their stylistic innovations, their staying power? “Originality” tops the list: that startling mixture of musical elements that draws us to listen again and again, and a little more deeply each time. But when it comes to the legacy of such figures, don’t ignore the subsequent artists who receive this new information and build upon it. While Charlie Parker sent the message, its import was amplified by the generations of musicians who at first copied his language, then absorbed and adapted it, and then wrote their own essays that underscored the lasting impact of the original.
So when you hear echoes of Pat Metheny’s mid-80s bands in Topping’s “First Days of Summer,” or of Weather Report in Sepsis’s “Malawi”; of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters or the Brecker Brothers on “Schizo,” or Eddie Harris in “Simple,” or the 1970s ECM Records soundprint on “Road to Hue” – in each case, it’s neither an accident nor a rip-off. In each case, those touchstones have inspired Sepsis and Topping to mine this still rich material, using tools and methods and experiences unique to them.

For one example, Sepsis wrote “Road to Hue” on a visit to Vietnam with his wife, where “One day we took a road trip to the city of Hue. While I wasn’t a combatant during the Vietnam War, I woke up one morning having an incredibly powerful dream about loss.” This composition is the result.

Adds co-leader Topping, “When we started this group, we played mainly covers” – new versions of fusion-era classics by Herbie Hancock and Freddie Hubbard, and several tunes by Metheny, whose music had left an especially strong mark on them both. In fact, the impetus to form the band came when Topping started playing the EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument), allowing him to create the timbres and attack and textures of Metheny’s synth-guitar – and to face the challenge of “integrating these sounds in an organic way” with such analog instruments as Waddell’s guitar and Mitch Forman’s piano.

The tritone – the note that precisely bisects the 12-tone scale and caused some consternation when it first came into use – was long known as “the devil’s interval.” Here, the devil’s in the details that allow Sepsis, Topping and company to redefine the music that influenced them, and then to open a gateway into a sonic world distinctive in its own right.

An asylum, of course, can refer to a place of protection, or a retreat from workaday woes – or, as Topping points out, laughing, “it could be a mental asylum; that’s all in there.” But this music is the opposite of bedlam. Sure, you’ll hear many voices in each piece – a reflection of deep roots and honest homage – but they’re singing in the same resonant key, on a program crafted with care and exquisite balance between old and new.

— Neil Tesser