Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Best Review Ever

Well, maybe not exactly... but it features what may be one of my favorite lines about an IJG record:

"You will never, ever hear it on commercial radio [...]"

Amen, brother!

This, by the way, is from the small flurry of press we received on our recent jaunt up to the Reno area (it may also be the first review of the forthcoming Go Go). More about that trip soon, but in the meantime you can find a PDF copy of this at Truckee's Moonshine. It's on page 30-something, I think.

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One Guy’s Critique

by Taylor Parsons

‘Jazz’ has become a funny word in these mostly-postly-modern days. For some, it has come to describe haughty art music that has soared out of the reach of the casual listener. For others, it brings to mind a group of old men in tuxedos playing grandpa’s favorite Gershwin tunes in a dusty old ballroom. Still others see jazz as an antidote to contemporary popular music, one of the few remaining genres in which artists remain connected to and responsible for their creative musical production. Indeed, thousands of potential definitions exist for jazz. For me, though, the most important and significant connotations of the word ‘jazz’ signify spontaneous improvisation and honest—that is to say, not commercially driven—creative expression.

By that standard, the Los Angeles based Industrial Jazz Group, an experimental and constantly evolving ensemble formed by pianist and composer Andrew Durkin in 2000, must certainly be seen as a jazz group—indeed one of the better jazz groups around right now. Sporting a brass-heavy eleven piece lineup and featuring some of the best and most vibrant players in the emerging West Coast scene, the IJG provides the ideal musical field for Durkin’s meticulously written, wryly ironic, and broadly influenced compositions. Each of the five albums the IJG has released to date showcases a slightly different side of the group’s unique sound, and always opens up a novel and usually interesting way to defy categorization or critical pigeonholing.

Industrial Jazz A Go Go! is the IJG’s fifth and latest release, and it speaks volumes about why the group has received such cult acclaim. Drawing on everything from classical European brass concertos to American doo-wop to mariachi to revival gospel, and encompassing just about everything in between, Industrial Jazz A Go Go! is undoubtedly a fun record. It’s also a funny record — Durkin’s pervasive humor and ironic selfconsciousness is apparent on virtually every track, and it’s hard not to laugh along with him. And, of course, like the group’s earlier releases, it’s very well made, not only with respect to the technical virtuosity of the musicians and the incredible and unusual precision of Durkin’s writing, but also with respect to the finer points of recording quality, mixing, and mastering.

All that said, however, let there be no mistake: Industrial Jazz A Go Go! is neither an easy nor instantly likeable record. It isn’t the kind of album that would be welcome on the stereo at an evening soirĂ©e…unless of course you hang out with the hippest, edgiest people in the universe. Nor is it the kind of CD I would personally want to play on a relaxed Sunday afternoon at home, or in the car on the way to work in the early morning. You will never, ever hear it on commercial radio (although the world would be a better place if you did).

Indeed, Industrial Jazz A Go Go! offers a challenging listening experience that is most notable for how it pushes and blurs boundaries, similar to the work of avant-garde greats like Anthony Braxton, Steve Reich, and Frank Zappa. Like the work of its experimental forebears, Industrial Jazz A Go Go! demands focus and attention, and simply will not work as wallpaper music. If that sounds like your musical bag, go grab a copy and check it out for yourself. Better yet, go see the Industrial Jazz Group at the Brewery Arts Center in Carson City or here at Moody’s Bistro in Truckee and buy a copy there.

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