The members of experimental jazz trio MMLE are meticulously vague about their name. The acronym could stand for any number of things — Minneapolis Minnesota Loves Enya (which is entirely possible), Marginal Maximum Likelihood Estimator (an algorithm used by NASA to extract flight test data), Many Many Lumberjacks Eating (a bunch of lumberjacks eating) — but the truth is stranger than fiction.
In November 2013, an SUV parked near Frances Slocum State Park caught fire, injured three people and was later found to be a makeshift laboratory for producing methamphetamine. The situation wasn’t exactly inspiring, but local media outlets were still able to craft headlines for the incident that resembled an absurd band name — so three local musicians and “Breaking Bad” fans chose one and made it their absurd band name.
They’ve since left that name behind in favor of an ambiguous acronym left to the listener’s imagination; a good idea, considering the group is just as likely to play a dinner room as they are a rock and roll venue.
“We tailor our sound and set list to fit the show we’re playing, so essentially if we have an upscale dinner show we play more jazz-based music,” Dallas resident Mike Kapolka (bass) said. “If we have more of like a bar or club show, we make it a little bit heavier and more exciting.”
Kapolka was asked by his guitar instructor, Wilkes-Barre resident Vince Insalaco, to join MMLE as bassist, rounding out a lineup that also includes drummer Matt Scola. Insalaco called MMLE a “band about learning;” he turned to Scola to learn more about jazz while simultaneously working one of his own students into the fold.
“Matt kind of taught me a lot about jazz and jazz rhythms, so it’s kind of a cool little angle … it’s kind of like a circle,” Insalaco said.
Scola, who lives in Dunmore, said he grew up playing jazz and was excited to get back behind the kit after an extended period of musical inactivity.
“I just like straight ahead jazz, it’s my favorite music,” Scola said. “I’m just trying to play music and, especially, keep the jazz idiom alive to the best of our abilities.”
Insalaco said to expect musical improv and other mainstays of the jazz genre during the band’s live shows, as well as the aforementioned tailored set lists. MMLE is scheduled to play May 10 at The Tomato Bar in Pittston, May 11 at The Keys in Scranton and May 23 at Sabatini’s in Exeter.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts