It’s been two years since the Boulder-based band Envy Alo dropped their first album, One Time, but the soulful rock/funk band hasn’t stopped working, crafting a sound keyboardist Aaron Pettine calls “boogaloo fusion,” a genre deeply influenced by New Orleans jazz.
The bandmates share a mutual love of jazz, but it was Kevin Hinder, the group’s guitarist, who led the charge to focus their sound.
“Jazz has been a big part of my life since I was probably 14 or 15,” Hinder says. “It was really only five or six years ago that I discovered [boogaloo]. It was Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, they were playing a late-night show after a Widespread Panic concert I attended in Asheville, North Carolina, and they did this Ray Charles boogaloo dance party, and it was this funky-jazz-fusion take on Ray. It was unlike how I’d heard Ray Charles before.”
Envy Alo has added some new members as well. The band is no longer a trio, but a revolving six-piece, welcoming Callie Morrocco on lead vocals, Karl Summers on bass and Kevin Supina on saxophone and vocals.
“I’ll always be a fan of the concise, punchy, trio sound that was the origin of this band,” says drummer Nate Etter. “At the same time, I’m super excited about the direction we’re heading. Callie, Karl and Supina each add so much to the sound and let us go in directions that we never would have touched just a year ago.”
Drawing influences from the likes of Phish, Jimmy Herring, Herbie Hancock and John Scofield, Envy Alo could easily get pegged as a jam band. But instead of free-flowing instrumentals common in the jam scene, the band likes predetermined sets that Pettine says makes their sound tighter.
“We’re not going to usually take a 20-minute jam session,” Pettine says. “I think it sets us apart from what is our scene. On that note, we’re OK with experimentation.”
To keep in line with that experimentation, the band occasionally likes to take their originals further. Adding in some jam time isn’t a bad thing as long as the music remains “joyous, danceable and lends itself to laughter and good vibes,” Summers says.
Envy Alo is reaching their next phase of their journey with a performance at this year’s Summer Camp music festival in Chillicothe, Illinois. The band scored their spot at the festival in January via a battle of the bands competition in Denver. The win launches them into a new orbit, where bands like Umphrey’s McGee and Phil Lesh and the Terrapin Family are set to play.
“We were really pleasantly surprised,” Morrocco says. “The band wanted the win, but we were up against three other bands, and they were all really good.”
Envy Alo is also anticipating their return to Fox Theatre as an opener for super-group jam band Ghost Light.
As far as future projects go, Envy Alo is planning on getting back into the studio. Since their debut album was instrumental (save for one line in one track, “Take another look, she said”), the band is excited to work in vocals.
“It’s added a whole other layer,” Supina says. “Anytime there’s vocals in the band it’s just another thing for people to latch onto. Not everyone can get into instrumental music. So having that human element is needed.”
The band scored some studio time at Evergreen Studios, but Pettine says scheduling time when all six members can head into the studio is tough.
“I’m finding that making a schedule work for six people is extremely difficult,” he says, laughing, “But it’s worth having all these new influences in the band.”
On the Bill: Envy Alo. 7 p.m. Thursday, April 5, The Post Brewing Co., 2027 13th St., Boulder. Free.
8:30 p.m. Friday, May 11, Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder. Tickets are $12-$15.