Saudade began as an instrumental based, genre bending music collective formed by bassist/composer, Charles Norkus aka Chuck Doom. The labyrinth of Saudade’s musical associations and inspiration began with Chuck’s mentor, legendary bassist, Jaco Pastorius. While still in music school, young Charles was discovered by Jaco’s friend, Steven Barber. During a school performance, Barber, who happened to be attending noticed that not only did Chuck play like Jaco, but he used the same amp that Jaco was desperately looking for to be used at his inaugural NY show for his now famous “Word of Mouth” tour. Steven tracked down young Charles’ phone number from the school, and the next day Chuck got a call from Jaco. Not believing it was actually Jaco who was calling him, Chuck initially hung up thinking it was a joke. After a call back and some convincing, Jaco told Chuck to meet him with his amp the next day at specific street location in NY at 3:30p. Chuck being excited and nervous not to be late, showed up 3 hours early at 12:30p, when out of nowhere, Jaco walked up to him and said, “right on time, kid!” and thus began a friendship and mentorship between the two until Jaco’s untimely passing.
The beginnings of Saudade can be traced back to 1981-82 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL where Chuck and keyboardist John Medeski, along with Jaco’s brother in-law, Paul Horn-Muller, formed the jazz fusion trio, Emergency.
Playing in the thriving music scene of South Florida, the next few years led to a New Year’s Eve (1984-85) gig with guitarist, Randy Bernsen, a close friend of Jaco’s with whom Chuck played regularly throughout the 80’s and early 90’s. That night’s gig included Bob Zohn, lead singer/guitarist for the Grammy nominated reggae group, Blue Riddim. In the years prior, Bob and Jaco were bandmates in various bands and became very close friends while playing together in the Ft. Lauderdale music scene.
The meeting of spirits that night led Chuck, Bob and Randy to form The Riddims, a mix of reggae, rock, soul and jazz elements. They were scheduled to record with renowned producer, Alex Sadkin of Island Records, when Bob suddenly died of an aneurism in June of 1987. Bob had instilled a deep love of reggae and dub music in Chuck, and his untimely passing was a crushing blow to the young bassist. This was followed three months later by the passing of Jaco on September 21, 1987. Further tragedy followed in January of 1988 when Chuck’s mother, Margret Ann, passed away. These three passings, over a six month span, forever changed the course of Chuck’s life.
In 1991, Chuck met rapper T. Isaam, during a recording session for Cheetah Records at the label’s studio in Melbourne, FL., and the two would go on to form the band, Nation of Souls. While Nation of Souls was recording in NYC, a chance meeting in a music store with NY hardcore mainstay Todd Youth led to a recording session with Chuck and Todd, who subsequently recommended drummer Mackie Jayson to join the session. Chuck and Mackie became instant friends and musical partners, and a couple days after they recorded together for the first time, Mackie invited Chuck to Sony Studios in Hell’s Kitchen, which turned out to be a video shoot for the Bad Brains “Rise” record and Chuck’s first introduction to guitarist, Dr. Know.
Although the Nation of Souls record was never completed, Chuck and Mackie maintained a close friendship. Chuck invited Mackie to Ft. Lauderdale to work with him on a project with Jaco’s daughter, Mary Pastorius, with whom Chuck had been writing songs with. Included on those demos were Saudade collective members, avant-garde guitarist, David Torn and Weather Report hand drummer, Robert Thomas Jr. One of the demos ended up being included on the Sony Records soundtrack for the documentary film, Jaco, which was produced by Metallica bassist, Rob Trujillo. After initially being introduced by Jaco, Chuck and Robert Thomas Jr. would go on to form a close musical bond, often playing together through the years.
In 2007 Chuck and Mackie went to AppleHead Recording Studios in Woodstock, NY and began demoing songs that would eventually become the first Saudade recordings, which later would also include Dr. Know on guitar. In mid 2007 Chuck moved to Los Angeles, and shortly after moving to LA, Chuck would go on to join the band Crosses.
The 2007 recordings remained unfinished for nearly a decade, until Chuck met drummer, Gil Sharone and the two of them began playing together with Team Sleep guitarist, Todd Wilkinson, which led to Chuck and Gil joining Team Sleep to record the Live Woodstock Sessions record in 2015. A rhythm section bond was formed and in late 2015 when Chuck decided to make Saudade his musical focus, he knew Gil would become an integral member and core member of the band. Chuck completed the writing process for Saudade and went on to call his Florida homies, John Medeski and Robert Thomas Jr. along with Dr. Know, David Torn, Mackie, and Gil to contribute to the music of the original recordings and a collection of new recordings.
He then returned to AppleHead Studios to begin the production of Saudade’s first collection of songs. Over a two year period close to 20 instrumental songs were recorded. Saudade released their first single, “MyGoalsBeyond” as a limited free download via BitTorrent in 2016. The idea of adding singers had always been in the back of Chuck’s mind, and after hearing one of the instrumentals, singer/songwriter, Chelsea Wolfe, agreed to collaborate on “Shadows & Light,” which would become the first vocal single release by Saudade in March of 2019. Later that year Saudade signed a licensing deal with the label, Sargent House and has since released singles, “Crisis,” an explosive instrumental, “Lions” feat. vocals from Lamb of God’s, Randy Blythe and the legendary Lee “Scratch” Perry, and “Sanctuary Dub” with theOGM and Yeti Bones from Ho99o9. Look for Saudade’s next release in 2021, which features more tracks from Blythe, Scratch, Ho99o9, new collaborators, A.A. Williams, Ben Chisholm, Vowws, and more surprises to come.
Gil Sharone – Drummer from Marilyn Manson, Dillinger Escape Plan, Puscifer, Team Sleep and Stolen Babies. Author of Jamaican rhythms book Wicked Beats. Known for his versatility in many styles – Jazz, reggae, rock, funk, punk and R&B.
David Torn – 2-time Grammy winner and avant-garde/jazz/rock guitarist, composer, and producer known for instrument looping. Played with David Bowie, k.d.lang, John Legend, Madonna, David Sylvian, and many others. 3-time Guitar Player magazine reader’s poll winner.
Dr. Know – Guitarist from the Hall of Fame nominated group Bad Brains
Mackie Jayson – Drummer from the Cro-Mags, Bad Brains, Madball and Fun Lovin’ Criminals
John Medeski – Jazz keyboardist and composer who came up through the New York avant-garde jazz scene in the 90’s. Plays in Medeski, Martin and Wood and The Word
Robert Thomas Jr. – 2x Grammy Award winner jazz percussionist and hand drummer known as an innovator in Bebop and hand drumming. Was a member of Weather Report and The Zawinul Syndicate.
D. Randall Blythe – Lead singer Lamb of God, Photographer
Lee “Scratch” Perry – Legendary Jamaican reggae/dub producer, musician and artist.
Chelsea Wolfe – Singer/songwriter known for her blended elements of goth, metal and folk music.
Ho99o9 – Punk/hip-hop/industrial duo from New Jersey
Vowws – Australian duo with synthpop/industrial/dark wave and experimental art influences