Distant Relative

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Distant Relative
Origin Springfield, Missouri
Genres Non-traditional jazz

Distant Relative is a non-traditional jazz band originating in Springfield, Missouri.


The band was formed during the production of "The Beats Go On", a performance of beat poetry and literature directed by Dr. Linda Park-Fuller of then-Southwest Missouri State (SMSU) in 1985 at Murphy's Jazz Club. The show was a success and so was the band. Ray Castrey on vibes and percussion, Randy Luna-piano, Phil Croy on guitars, and David Nace-drums/percussion, continued to play weekly at Murphy's for over a year, and after recording the band one night and returning a week later, Richard Kittleman-bass/keyboards, joined the group during that time. Pursuing a successful musical career, Randy Luna left Springfield and Distant Relative. The band continued to play for many years at the jazz club now known as Nathan P. Murphy's, opening for numerous jazz artists such as Maynard Ferguson, Buddy Rich and Barney Kessel, who shared the stage with the band. After leaving Murphy's as the house band, Distant Relative continued to play at venues that existed in Springfield and Columbia during the 1980s such as Mustache's, St. Michael's, The Regency Showcase, Fernando's Hideaway, and Murry's. They performed a number of times for the Ozarks House Concert Series at the Frances F. Vandivort Centre and Drury University, and had an appearance on Ozarks Magazine, a television show produced by the local public television station KOZK. In the summer of 1987, Distant Relative went into the recording studio to record their first album, entitled Hide The Silver. Engineered by Lou Whitney and Jim Wunderle at Column One Studios in Springfield, the album features seven original compositions written by members of the band. The music and sound still stand the test of time[according to whom?] and found its way to be a favorite recording among listeners and commuters in Vietnam in the late 1980s to early 1990s. Larry Rottman, a professor at then-Southwest Missouri State, took tapes of Distant Relative with him when he visited Vietnam during the winter of 1988. Rottmann, a veteran of the Vietnam War, has chronicled his return travels in Voices of Vietnam and Echos of Vietnam – multimedia programs designed to educate people about the country time tries to forget. The following May, a friend of Rottmann's[who?] reported that they were playing Distant Relative on the radio across the nation, "becoming one of the most popular jazz bands in the country". The following winter upon a return visit to Vietnam, Rottmann himself recognized a Distant Relative song being played on the public transit bus radio, and a local band playing Distant Relative songs on the street. During this time, the band began a working relationship with longtime singer and producer Jim Wunderle, appearing annually at the John Lennon Imagine Concerts, and a number of appearances at the Regency Showcase. Back into the studio with Wunderle in early 1990, the band recorded a second album but found itself with a bit of a problem in the process. Things were going just a little too well for the boys in the band as three of the members became fathers within a few months of each other. Family responsibilities took precedence and the band played fewer dates with the album never being released to the public. The members made it clear that they never broke up, "it's just that we were more distant than relative", explained Ray Castrey. It was only a few years that would pass before the itch to play again would become too great to resist. Early spring of 2005 found Kittleman and Castrey traveling to St. Louis to visit Phil Croy who had moved there with his family. They decided an impromptu jam session in the pavilion of a park would do them some good and that proved to be the catalyst to become more "relative" once again. After waiting a little while longer to grow the kids just a little bit older, the band began to appear as the season-opening act for The Rock House, a house concert series in Reeds Springs, Missouri, and again at the John Lennon Imagine Concerts. A few "world" tours later and the band has found itself playing their music with a few twists that make it a little different from their beginnings. What was once acoustic is now electric, and what was once electric is pretty much still electric—but goes acoustic quite often. Currently,[when?] all of the members of the band live in southwest Missouri and the band has expanded the number of playing dates it schedules, enjoying a resurgence in popularity with many old friends and many new fans.


External links[edit]

  • Distant Relative has a Facebook page and is featured in numerous videos on MUZIKL's YouTube channel.