From the classroom to the studio: Deptford High’s jazz director Carl Cox to release first full-length album

Cox has deep roots in the industry, with ties from Jay-Z to Smokey Robinson. Now, he can add another accolade to the list; his first full-length album.

Deptford High School’s Director of Jazz Studies Carl Cox poses for a picture with his saxophone at his home studio.

Carl Cox, director of jazz studies at Deptford High School has deep roots in the music industry, with ties from Jay-Z to Smokey Robinson. Now, he can add another accolade to the list – his first full-length album.

He has collaborated with his old University of the Arts college music professor and longtime friend, Dave Hartl, to co-write and create the album “Musical Collusion.” 

The band, called Guilty As Charged, includes Cox on the tenor saxophone, Hartl on the piano and organ, Andy Lalasis on the bass and Josh Orlando on the drums. 

With all his years of touring, spending time in recording studios and teaching, it dawned on him during the summer of last year that he never made his own album. So he called Hartl to discuss the concept, and in an hour, they planned out the album in a coffee shop in Philadelphia. 

Over the next several months, they sent each other improvised versions of their own melodies and grooves, emailing recordings back and forth, adding where the other left off, to finally create 10 finished songs. It was a collision of ideas, or what Cox describes as collusion of ideas, hence the album name. 

“It was seamless. Working with Dave has been amazing. What he can come up with harmonically and what I can come up with melodically, it was like a perfect scenario,” said Cox.  

The album was recorded in just two days, with only two takes per song. Listeners will hear an improv of funk fusion, Cox’s favorite genre, a combination of funk and jazz music, laced with the sway of organs and scattered drums. A video recording was taken during the whole session so that listeners can also see the process. The video and the album are scheduled to release on Labor Day on USB and CD. 

“Funk fusion is starting to come back, and I present that to my students at Deptford. So I figured, I love this music, let’s come up with something of my own,” said Cox. 

In his nearly 15 years at Deptford High School, he’s taught his music students about the great musicians and artists to look up to. It just so happens that Cox has probably worked with those same people, by either touring with them or landed a spot on their album.

Take Smokey Robinson for example, or Jay-Z. Or how about the Roots, the band that plays on the “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon?” 

He’s played with them all. In fact, Cox made a sit-down interview video with Robinson to give his students a few lessons on what makes a musical star. It was directed for the students at Deptford. With the legendary status of Robinson, it could have been addressed to every aspiring music student all over the world, but it was for those kids in Deptford. 

But that’s nothing new for Cox. He is touring almost every other week, all over the country, playing with some of the best musicians, and yet he comes back to Deptford in time for the school week to give his students the most invaluable lesson – experience.

For Cox, this album is as much for him as it is for his aspiring students, or even hobby musicians for that matter, that, yes, you can still work on your passion, no matter how old you are or how dusty your instrument is from being stored away.  

“You do it because you love it, not because you’re forced to do it. I want them to realize; I’m a teacher but I’m also a musician, and I’m still pushing forward with my own creative outlets. You don’t want to stop that. By creating a CD and creating my own stuff, they get to see firsthand that this is something that’s possible,” said Cox. 

Listeners can find more information about where to purchase the album, concert dates and video recordings on Youtube and Facebook under the band’s name. 

Pictured is the album cover for “Musical Collusion.” Cox says that he and the group try not to take themselves too seriously when it comes to band names and images. (Photo courtesy of Carl Cox)