Sunday, January 20, 2008

Canarsie Shuffle

One of the most rewarding indoor experiences you’re likely to have this winter would be to acquaint yourself with Brooklyn Jazz Underground (BJU) a collective of bandleaders which has been gathering a bit of steam for the last year in in the smaller venues of the outer NYC scene.

What they bring to the fold is an avant garde sound with a lot of warmth and ingenuity. It’s tough to give jazz the type of discerning eye it deserves when your not surrounded by it for anything less than a few days at a time. But they absolutely suck you in without any priming. You listen to one piece and feel at ease to gobble up ten more. This is the type of music which strips bare the wall between active listening and instinctive fun . The kind you can never get enough of.

There’s a very light touch at work with the arrangements. The music is pretty but not at the expense of sacrificing improvisation or compositional shifts in time signature. Mostly because the personality within the playing styles is very rich .

Evocations of Brooklyn are laced between the blue notes very comfortably forming a type of floral-urban patchwork. Even if you don’t know Kings County very well, its unmistakable that the collective views the neighborhood with a good amount of intimacy and understanding. It's regional music in the best sense of the word.

I don't
mean to discount the individual achievements of each band by lumping them into a whole. However, BJU has been promoting themselves as a collective and putting forward the idea that individual recognition will greatly benefit from across the board praise. In that spirit I'll critique them in the manner which they prefer to be observed.

Without picking favorites within the collective; start with the ensembles of bassists Alexis Cuadrado and Anne Mette Iversen. After that everything will flow naturally.

Recording wise they’re very much in DIY territory with two compilations out; the second released as recently as January 8 which will be for sale online soon.

Podcast interviews with members of the collective are also available on Itunes for free while their myspace page has material from Vol. 1. Make sure to visit the myspace pages of the respective groups as well

The ensembles have been playing an absurd amount of free shows around New York. You can't buy that kind of goodwill anyway.


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