Whoever you are, Greg Kurstin wants to jam with you.
The multi-instrumentalist of the mid-'90s modern rock trio Geggy Tah made a lot of friends en route to buzz bins with the ubiquitous single "Whoever You Are" and they're all part of Kurstin's new Action Figure Party jazz collective.
Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, Sean Lennon, Cibo Matto's Miho Hatori, Dr. Dre and Eminem bassist Mike Elizondo, Buckcherry guitarist Yogi and Incubus drummer Jose Pasillas are just some of the musicians featured on Action Figure Party's self-titled debut album, due May 22.
"Bringing these amazing musicians together and writing music for this CD was an incredible experience," Kurstin said. "When I recorded the album I wanted to create a vibe that will suck you in and put you in another zone."
Action Figure Party is a showcase of Kurstin and his collaborators' rock, hip-hop, dub and soul influences all smothered over a layer of funky jazz.
"I would love to expose this eclectic space-groove-jazz to people who might not ever listen to a jazz record," Kurstin said.
Action Figure Party came together from a variety of relationships. Kurstin met Lennon, who plays turntables on two tracks, and Hitori, who sings on another, when Geggy Tah toured with Cibo Matto. He met percussionist Yuval Gabay, who plays on three tracks, on tour with the now defunct Soul Coughing.
Kurstin is a veteran of the Los Angeles music scene (he played keyboards with Dweezil Zappa when he was 12) and has played with several artists around town. He played keyboards on the Chili Peppers' Californication, and convinced Flea to return the favor on bass on two tracks from Action Figure Party.
Yogi, who plays guitar on seven of the album's 12 songs, including the explosive leadoff tune, "Everybody Ready," went to high school with Kurstin.
"My musical background is pretty diverse," said Kurstin, who also spent time in New York City studying with Jaki Byard, Charles Mingus' pianist. While he was with Geggy Tah, Kurstin was also performing with innovative vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson. "I've always been juggling the two until they collided into the music of Action Figure Party."
Other guests on the upcoming album include drummer Brian Reitzell (Air, Redd Kross), trombonist Gabrial McNair (No Doubt), saxophonist and trombonist David Ralicke (Beck), violinist and bassist Daniel Shulman (Garbage, Run-D.M.C., Warren G.), percussionist Gary Novak (Alanis Morissette, Chick Corea), bassist Fima Ephron (Walter Becker) and percussionist John Molo (Bruce Hornsby).
"Many of these folks come in and play at different shows also," Kurstin said. "It's always a surprise, even for me."
An Action Figure Party tour is in the works for the summer, though no dates have been announced.