Jake Pinto’s eclectic musical story has shaped a charmingly honest solo debut rich in instinctive melodicism and cultured arrangements. To be released by Mother West on March 31st, Sad Songs for Happy People is at once confessional and celebratory, marrying timeless songsmith instincts and 70s musicality with nuanced funkiness and shadows of jazz.
A jazz musician since his early teens, Jake attended NYU for jazz piano and was soon booking gigs and festivals worldwide, including the Blue Note in New York City and Milan. While still in college, he found himself already playing alongside genre luminaries like François Mouton, Ralph Lalama, and the late Lew Soloff.
Simultaneously, Jake was a founding member of the afrobeat buzz band EMEFE, whose 2012 debut album was praised as “fresh and inventive” by All About Jazz. Known for exuberant live shows incorporating funk, hip-hop, and rock & roll, EMEFE went on to play prestigious engagements, including the Montreal and Rochester International jazz festivals.
A rediscovery of his teenage passion for writing songs on guitar and singing just for fun snowballed into a rock & roll band called The YeahTones, a cathartically explosive trio that toured coast to coast. The YeahTones landed high-profile placements in movie trailers like 2019’s Villains and TV shows such as Shameless. Soon, Jake was an in-demand songwriter, signing a publishing deal and working with The Shadowboxers, Jeff ‘Dynamite’ Silverman (Truth and Soul), Tor Miller, and many more.
Getting back to writing on piano, Jake found fresh excitement and energy. He began working with a diverse variety of artists at Silverman’s Future Sounds studio in Brooklyn, and on off days, he would bring in his own band and record what would become Sad Songs for Happy People – much of it tracked live on vintage, analog equipment.
“The Beatles are still my favorite band, but I was also obsessed with D’Angelo for so long,” he offered. “And I love the crooners like Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra; the directness of how they sing and tell stories. It’s a hard thing to do, to tell show-tune stories in a way that doesn’t feel corny.”
Jake credits Grammy-winning producer/mixer Ed Spear (Brandi Carlile, Lady Gaga) with pulling his diverse influences together on his arresting debut. “He mixed the record, but it was definitely sort of ‘mixing-plus’,” he said. “Such incredible ideas and brilliance. Ed really transformed the record.”
Sad Songs for Happy People features a who’s who of NY luminaries, including Miles Francis (Will Butler, Antibalas), Tim Kuhl (Margaret Glaspy), Dylan Aiello (Elizabeth and the Catapult), and Dillon Treacy (Alto Palo, Amber Mark.)
The result is 11 ultra-accomplished tracks of eclectic, Americana, and blues-flecked indie rock delivered unfiltered, straight from the source. These are songs with longevity, of intrinsic emotional and musical quality rather than adherence to genre or style. Most are keys based, embroidered with snazzy brass, tasty guitar interjections, and grand rhythmic flourishes.
“There’s something beautiful about taking a sad song and putting it to a bright beat and bright instrumental,” Jake continued. “Just an interesting combination of melancholy, nostalgia, love, and happiness.”
Sad Songs for Happy People was set for release right when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and then further delayed when Jake’s talents were sought out by Miami psych-funksters Magic City Hippies and Brooklyn’s afrobeat flag bearers Antibalas, leading to months of global touring. He even did double duty as a solo opener for MCH.
As well as continued touring with Magic City Hippies and Antibalas, plus a burgeoning career writing music for TV and film, the now bi-coastal Jake plans widespread solo shows and music videos to support Sad Songs for Happy People and is already deep into writing its follow-up.
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