It’s hard to take anything about the Industrial Jazz Group for granted. Even the LA-based ensemble’s name is misleading to the point that its leader, Andrew Durkin, feels the need to address it in the header of the group’s website. “So we’re not really industrial. Were the Beatles really insects?” As explanations go - humorous as they might be - it rings a little hollow. It does, however, speak volumes about IJG and its singular approach to music-making. Just when you think you’ve got it, when the form becomes clear, the beat insatiable, a song implodes and you’re left to sift through the wreckage or a freely improvised saxophone solo is followed by a foray into ‘70s lounge rock. The result is rarely anything less than thrilling.
Recorded at a series of live concerts from 2004-07 and interspersed liberally with studio material, Leef is an unrelenting amalgam of shtick, pop, cabaret and classical that comes off equal parts Bernstein, Zappa and Mingus. Durkin has a hand in every aspect of Leef, including the live, often improvised performances that make up the album’s core. The result is a so-called “hybrid approach”, where live sections are touched up with studio material and entire passages from studio sessions are inserted into live material. Durkin attempts to tally the ratios in the album’s notes and comes to a rough average 90% live material/10% studio, disregarding the entirely live “Don’t Let ‘em Getcha” and the studio recording of “Fuck The Muck (part one)”. Thus Leef has the spontaneity of live performance along with the lightning transitions and rounded edges of a studio work. Add to that a beguiling uniqueness, humor and beauty and you have a great record by an incredible ensemble.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Matt Miller has a new review of LEEF in October's All About Jazz-NY. It is conveniently coordinated with our October 19 show at the Bell House (with Darcy James Argue's Secret Society and Travis Sullivan's Bjorkestra).