Long overdue post, busy summer! Back in the middle of July I had the opportunity to record Darcy James Argue's Secret Society at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC for air on WFMU. DJA's Secret Society is an 18-piece big band that pairs a healthy adoration of the history of big band jazz with a playful modern sensibility, infusing meticulous arrangements with noise and free passages, Afro-funk beats or minimalism. I was taken with their debut record, Infernal Machines, almost immediately because it represents a freeform approach to a music that has thrown genres into the toolbox only incrementally. Darcy has a large palette to work from and he uses it.
And, you know, let's face it, it's ballsy to have a big band in 2009. Despite the fact that this music has some support (the record was partially fan funded), and some favorable press (there was a piece in Newsweek, of all places, not to mention the fawning jazz press), it's not exactly economical or convenient to tour with a big band, record with a big band, or even play one-off shows. Plus, the logistics of periodically reassembling this cast of excellent musicians, all in demand players with their own projects to boot, is somewhat mindboggling. There is an audacity, a punk rock ethos, and a purpose that pervades this project, and it's worthy of some appreciation.
That said, the music is also wonderful. Have a listen. And, maybe peruse Darcy's excellent blog while you're at it. Special thanks to Le Poisson Rouge and Darcy James Argue for being so accommodating. Engineered by Matt Duane.
Darcy James Argue's Secret Society; Le Poisson Rouge 07/15/09
1. Zeno (soloist: Ryan Keberle, trombone)
2. Flux in a Box (soloists: Ben Kono, alto saxophone; Mike Holober, piano)
3. Hard Up on the Down Low (soloist: Ingrid Jensen, trumpet)
4. Jacobin Club (soloists: Sam Sadigursky, tenor saxophone & Mike Fahie, trombone)
5. Ferromagnetic (soloist: Nadje Noordhuis, trumpet)
6. Obsidian Flow (soloist: Erica vonKleist, alto saxophone)
Encore: The Perils of Empire
Full list of personnel and more photos after the break.
Sebastian Noelle, guitar
Mike Holober, piano
Matt Clohesy, bass
Jon Wikan, drums