Ghost-Note begins like no other band – Sput Searight and Nate Werth met playing together in Snarky Puppy, adding their unique chemistry to the band while yearning to take their mutual love of exploration to new places. With fans digging their combined solos at some of the live shows, Ghost Note soon set out on the road. Drums and percussion in search of sound; Add Nick Werth (aka Galaxe) on Xylosynth and a mix of sounds was swirling in front of them. Their first LP, Fortified, captured those early moments. And yet the stage was set for this band to grow outward from the center, and changes continued to expand the sound. Through an ongoing series of events called life, Nick Werth eventually left the band, leaving the front open to improvise with new personnel. And improvise they did, with a rotating cast that all became an integral part of the band – Anthony ‘AJ’ Brown, Sylvester Uzoma Onyejiaka II (Sly 5th Ave), Dywane “MonoNeon” Thomas Jr, Jonathan Mones, Michael Jelani Brooks, and Xavier Taplin.
Nate Werth grew up in Northwestern Indiana, playing in the marching band and soon following his brother’s path to UNT. Nate envisioned his future in classical music – more symphony than playing in bars – but when he arrived at UNT there was a broad array of adjunct faculty, teaching many styles of world percussion from West African to Afro Cuban to East Indian. Nate jumped straight in and collected experiences in different ensembles, perhaps overdoing it as his professor tried to guide him back towards the orchestra. Needless to say, Nate switched to general ed and continued to play where he felt a sense of community.
If you’ve had the pleasure of watching Snarky Puppy play, you’ll see Nate actively adding flavor to the mix with unusual instruments. As a young fan of Aphex Twin, Nate takes the perspective of a studio musician designing sound with his suite of tools to the stage.
Sput Searight was raised in Dallas, and has collaborated with (and influenced) many – from God’s property to Snarky Puppy to Terrace Martin to Snoop Dogg. Winning multiple Grammys, Sput has been a player, yet his strongest position is the producer’s chair. Sput understands and respects the creative process from both sides, and his respect for Nate Werth is evident at every turn. When he speaks of Nate, he marvels at his openness to new styles and experiences, and his thorough hands on research in the world of percussion.
As Ghost-Note hit the road in 2017, they could not avoid the barrage of news hitting every day, so the band made a conscious choice to find comedy and positivity in these troubling times. They began recording their moments of discussion and humor as voice memos, which would later find their way into the new album. Studio dates were set, and the surprise announcement that Nick Werth would be leaving the band for his solo work left things wide open. Without Nick, Ghost-Note started anew with no notions; they just went in to the studio and risked it all.
And so, Swagism was recorded in the same way the band developed: start with the base and leave the destination wide open. With a growing cast of players bringing fresh new arrangements of sound, Nate and Sput brought in some friends, further altering the end game. Kamasi Washington, Karl Denson, Raja Kassis, Prudence the Auset Sneed, Brandon ‘Taz’ Neiderauer, Nigel Hall, Bob Lanzetti, Alvin Ford Jr, Jay Jennings, Nick Werth, Bobby Ray Sparks, Phil Lassiter, Michael Palmer and many more added their incredible flourish to the album, rounding out a document that captures the entire Ghost-Note experience, tying everything together in the same way it evolved – as a family, as a multi-cultural band of humans that fully embraces the time they spend together and their common goal, complete with reflection on the times we live in. This is Ghost-Note.
And so we have two humans who synch up, both in their craft of music and in their interest in expansion and open improvisation. Their brotherhood is best expressed by the opening track – a poem written by Sput about the world we live in, handed to Nate to read to music – a personal statement on social justice, race, the human condition, and SWAG.
Robert Sput Searight - drums, rhodes, organ, & auxiliary keys
Nate Werth - percussion
Anthony “AJ” Brown - bass guitar & key bass
Sylvester Uzoma Onyejiaka II - bari sax, tenor sax, & flute
Dywane “MonoNeon” Thomas Jr. - bass guitar, guitar, and baritone guitar
Jonathan Mones - alto sax & flute
Michael Jelani Brooks- tenor sax & flute (A2, A6)
Xavier Taplin- auxiliary keys & vocals (A4, B2, B3 & B9)
Executive Producers: Robert Sput Searight, Nate Werth, & Louis Marks
Produced by: Robert Sput Searight
Co-produced by: Nate Werth
Recorded at: The Parlor Recording Studios & 206 Studios
Engineered by: Nick Guttmann, Matt Grondin, & Ben Burget
Mixed at: Make Believe Studios, Tiki Hill, The Parlor Recording Studios, & Atlantic Sound
Mixed by: Rick Carson (A4, A6, A9, B2, B3, B4, B5, & B9), Chris Godbey (A1 & A3), Matt Grondin (A5, A8, B1, & B6), & Nic Hard (A2, A7, B7, & B8)
Mastered by: Rick Carson at Make Believe Studios
Artwork by: Ventral is Golden
Alvin Ford Jr. - drums
Michael Palma - rhodes, moog, clavinet, & prophet
Nick “Galaxe” Werth - xylosynth
Bob Lanzetti - guitar
Ben Burget - flute & soprano sax
Chris Payton - guitar
Donny Domino - vocals
Mark Lettieri - guitar
Raja Kassis - guitar
Jay Jennings - commentary
Nigel Hall - clavinet, moog, rhodes, prophet, arp odyssey, & organ
Bobby Ray Sparks - moog & clavinet
Phil Lassiter - trumpet
Karl Denson - flute
Weedie Braimah - djembe, congas, dununs, & vocals
Brandon “TAZ” Niederauer - guitar
So So Topic - vocals
Kamasi Washington - tenor sax
Prudence TheAuset Sneed - vocals
Rico Sisney - vocals
Ernie G - turntables/samples
Elise Testone - vocals
Justin Stanton - prophet 6