Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Conduit

CONDUIT. (Photo: Courtesy of Ted White)
CONDUIT. (Photo: Courtesy of Ted White)

There is a prolific improvisational band in Falls Church, though they are largely unknown. The band’s name is Conduit and they have produced 56 CDs in the last 12 years and have a 57th on the horizon. Since the group is improvisational, every CD is distinct from all of the others.

Conduit, which creates mainly a mix of experimental jazz, progressive rock and minimalism, gets its name because the band members are a conduit for the music. They got together to create its first CDs in the winter of 2004. The band came together as a result of a conversation between two longtime friends – Ted White and Dan Joy – who began jamming together in the late 70s and early 80s. Joy moved away from the region for some time, came back in the late 90s and a few years later made a suggestion that would lead to an immense body of work.

“At some point he said to me, ‘We need to get together and jam again,’” White said. “Well, he said this at a small party at my place where another friend of ours was and this was JD Mack. And JD is just about the nicest guy I know, although Bob Crain is a close second.

“JD heard Dan and me talking and said ‘Hey, can I get into this with you guys?’ I said ‘I suppose. What do you play?’ and he said ‘Bass’ and I said ‘Good’ because both Dan and I play keys and I play sax.”

Mack’s addition to the group would prove vital for two reasons – the fact that he added a bass to the burgeoning group and the fact that he eventually introduced Crain, the band’s drummer, to White. Crain joined the band in August 2005 and the group built Conduit Studio in the basement of his home, located just outside of Falls Church.

It is there that Conduit has produced the bulk of its work. According to White, the group has several live jam sessions in addition the group’s studio discography. He said that sometimes the group might only get together to jam once or twice a year some years and several in others. Crain said that he thinks they have such an immense catalog because of their enjoyment of the process of creating music together.

“It’s a process that I think we’ve all gotten comfortable with and are happy with because we get to create music on a very regular schedule or when it works out for us,” Crain said.

“There’s no external pressures on gigs or trying to do any sort of releases or promotion or anything. It’s just really focused on what the three of us want to do and earlier what the four of us wanted to do with Dan….So we really hit a good kind of common interest and groove because we can all play what we feel like and it’s appreciated by the other members.”

One of the things that Crain referenced was the fact that Joy no longer plays with the group. Nine years ago he began experiencing health issues that made caused him so much physical pain that he couldn’t play on the group’s often long improvisational tracks.

“We like Dan a lot and we value him a lot and it’s unfortunate that he has what amounts to I guess a physical handicap in this respect,” White said. “Because it’s a lot harder on him than it is on us. But we miss him as a performer.”

Joy actually got to work with the group again on Conduit’s latest project, which is the soundtrack for an upcoming film called “The Unsound,” that’s being produced by a local film production company. He produced the band’s work for the soundtrack.

“It was good,” White said. “Any time that we can positively engage him in something that we’re doing, that he can and wants to do, we’re very happy to have that happen.”

Conduit will be releasing the music that they made for the “The Unsound,” along with some additional new music, on their 57th release sometime next year.

• For more information about Conduit, visit