The band had three members, so it was called Triplicate. Pretty unoriginal. But the bebop-based, progressive jazz trio tries to ensure that everything else about it is unique. Its members write their own music, make their own arrangements of jazz standards and aren't afraid of fusing other music genres into their jazz sound.
"Jazz is personality. Whatever the three of us come up with sounds like us,'' said Dave Stanoch, Triplicate's drummer. "We're not trying to imitate anything. We draw on the best and move forward.''
The Minneapolis band will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday in Beaner's Central Inc., 324 N. Central Ave. Though its members have played Duluth individually, this will be the trio's Duluth debut.
And as far as they can tell, Duluth audiences haven't heard anything like Triplicate, says bassist Bruce Heine.
The three musicians share a creative foundation in bebop, a style of jazz popular in pre-World War II America and spearheaded by musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie and Dexter Gordon.
"The thing that was really cool about bebop and jazz in general is that it was a big move at the time to really move music forward,'' Stanoch said.
Triplicate's self-titled debut album offers a general sweep of its progressive sound, Heine said. It's got New Orleans-style jazz, calypso, straight-up jazz and sprinklings of rock, funk and Latin influences.
The opening track is Thelonious Monk's "Bemsha Swing,'' but it's a more subdued, swanky version than what's normally heard. "You Don't Know What Love Is'' is a Latin-inspired smoky ballad that showcases the band's maturity.
The album also includes three original Triplicate tracks, two by Stanoch and one by Heine. Stanoch's "Third Wind'' is probably the album's truest bebop piece, with subtly virtuosic improvisations by each member around the piece's chordal progressions.
Triplicate formed five years ago after Shapira moved back to Minneapolis from New York. In his hunt for musicians to gig with, he found Heine playing with another band. Eight months later, Heine invited Stanoch to join and the three musicians started casually building a repertoire.
While the trio's performances have steadily increased, all three men still carry a full plate of other musical pursuits.
Shapira teaches guitar lessons at Rymer Academy of Fine Arts in Roseville and free-lances for weddings and parties.
Stanoch teaches at Minneapolis' Music Tech College, plays in a couple of other bands and free-lances commercial music work.
Heine teaches bass at St. Cloud State University and plays in six bands, including a variety band with Stanoch.
"I think you almost have to do this kind of thing in music," Heine said. "It's difficult to focus on one thing and make it your lifelong career. You have to diversify.''
At the same time, each member considers Triplicate their full-time, year-round focus. It's the one thing that doesn't wear them down creatively or musically.
"It's like a breath of fresh air,'' Shapira said.
All three have been playing music most of their lives, although jazz wasn't always their focus. Shapira worked the rock 'n' roll scene in Minneapolis in bands before turning to jazz when he was 20.
Heine, who grew up in rural Minnesota, was exposed to music at a young age but didn't seriously pursue it until he realized he needed to find something to focus on in college. That's when he discovered the art of improvisation and started hanging around other college jazz musicians.
Stanoch's career choice actually was inspired by his experience as a 16-year-old drummer in a touring symphony youth orchestra that played New York's Carnegie Hall and six European cities. That's when he decided he wanted to be paid to travel and play music.
With their varied musical backgrounds and interests, the three men are committed to making sure all their projects stem from a group effort. They don't want their band to be focused exclusively on any one member or style.
"We like to blur the lines rather than draw lines that separate,'' Stanoch said. "I think it's more fun to be inclusive rather than be exclusive when it comes to styles or influences. Then you have more of a chance to come up with a personality."