In the house of Tuk: Local musician releases new CD
● By Richard Gaw
For two days this July, Kennett Square musician Bryan Tuk holed up at the SpectraSound studio in Quakertown with an ensemble of 13 musicians.
Figuratively speaking, the studio caught on fire – a commonplace occurrence when the Bryan Tuk Complex knocks out some work in a studio or performs live. From straight-ahead jazz and big band 1970s funk – and variations of modern rock and pop tossed in for fun – the group is made up of some of the biggest names in the Lehigh Valley-Philly music scene, including several young musicians who are currently studying music at Temple and West Chester universities and the University of the Arts. In addition, Tuk had bassist Brian Bortz and guitarist B.D. Lenz with him, who are members of the Bryan Tuk Trio.
Over the period of two long recording sessions, with Tuk on drums, the ensemble recorded a six-track CD that included interpretations of The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood,” “What is Hip?” by Tower of Power, and “How Deep is Your Love?” by the Bee Gees. The result of those recordings are captured in the band’s latest recording – Life in High Gravity – that will be released on Sept. 14, on the same day The Bryan Tuk Complex will perform live in concert at the Kennett Flash, beginning at 8 p.m.
Life in High Gravity takes its name from the High Gravity Lounge, located at the Allentown Brew Works, where the ensemble first got together three years ago.
“What I hope happens on Sept. 14 forms the beginning of a lengthy run for this ensemble,” Tuk said from his Kennett Square office, where he is an attorney and the owner of Groove KSQ, which provides musical education to youngsters and emerging musicians. “Our idea was to build a library of songs and orchestrations and songs, so now we’re creating a touring schedule to complement it.”
Unless he or she has reached superstardom and is confined to the sequestered life of limos and airports and fancy hotels, a musician’s life is motivated in part by the harmonious connection he or she has with other musicians. In Tuk’s case, several in the ensemble have known and played with each other for years, and the recording became the outgrowth of networking and friendships. In preparation for Life in High Gravity, Tuk said that he began to chat it up with the ensemble last December, preparing charts and conducting two pre-recording sessions.
“A lot of what made this recording came as a result of word-of-mouth,” Tuk said. “I remember sitting in this control room listening to these musicians and wondering, ‘How did this possibly happen?’ It’s rare to get so many talented musicians like this in the same room together.”
From the time he was a youngster playing the spoons on his mother’s couch, Tuk has been drawn to the tactile sensation of drumming and percussion. It led him to study music at West Chester University and pursue a career in music, while at the same time earning a law degree and practicing the legal profession, first in a firm and now in his own private practice.
Like many musicians, Tuk is a magician with a gift, trying to balance his love of music with the obligations of running his practice and being a married father of two children. Eventually, he realized that what he needed more of was time, so he began his own law practice, which now shares office space with yet another passion of his – grooveKSQ, a percussion and music studio, where he conducts lessons in music and provides opportunities for young people interested in music.
“In my prior law position, I was in the car making three trips to Allentown a week,” he said. “That’s 12 hours on the road, and that’s practically two work days. My enemy became the wasted time that was taking me away from my mission.”
In 2014, Tuk gave a TEDx talk in the Lehigh Valley, and discussed the roadblocks that he faced in the big juggling game he was playing.
“If you embrace your own true nature, and allow that person to come to the surface in your professional world, then many pleasant and surprising things will happen to you,” he said at the talk. “You will unlock your own potential.”
By his count, Tuk has several projects currently on his plate, which include continuing to develop grooveKSQ in partnership with local organizations; championing the EP recording the Bryan Tuk Trio released earlier in the year; planning a limited-run tour with the ensemble; and discussing an upcoming recording by the ensemble that will feature original songs composed by some of its members.
For the moment, he said that Life in High Gravity is a high water mark in his musical journey, one that’s taking center stage for now.
“I want people to leave the Flash humming the melodies and remember what they heard. With the talent that is in this group and the way we constructed the arrangements, from a technical standpoint, it’s very gratifying to play. I want our music to be accessible for the casual listener, as well as experienced musicians, because this band is terrific.”
To obtain tickets for the Bryan Tuk Complex Band performance at the Kennett Flash on Sept. 14, visit www.kennettflash.org.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.