Industrial Jazz Roundup
Friday, April 21. LA begins its weekend. Fresh from his inclusion in the LA Weekly 100 People 2006, Yo! List, Rocco Somazzi mans the door of the Barnsdall Gallery Theater in Los Feliz. The grounds surrounding the theater are quiet. Inside the theater…a different story. The Industrial Jazz Group is celebrating the release of Industrial Jazz A Go-Go.
I enter the theater a few minutes late with Soy Pudding, aka Betty, in tow. Horns cover the stage. They blare. They blaiiiiize! They brattttt. They bwaaa~iiiilllll! I suddenly need total and complete tonal immersion.
“Front row, Beth,” I nudge her. We sit down front and center. Things begin to get interesting. I count eleven horns, one guitar, electric bass, drums and pianist/conductor Andrew Durkin. One interpretive dancer. One chanteuss/singstress with a good set of pipes. Strangers from the audience and band members occasionally walk up to the microphone between songs and, accompanied by a soft horn or two, proceed to deliver Moondog- inspired epigrams, deadpan. Trumpeter Phil Rodriguez is wearing a sombrero, a multi-colored serape and mirrored cop shades. The guitarist sports swimtrunks, flippers and a snorkel. Everybody’s got a trick here. Not Durkin. Not the leader. He looks like George Lucas. He’s in t-shirt and jeans.
“They look like an IT department!” Betty giggles between songs.
“Beth, you have to understand jazz musicians. I went to North Texas. I was surrounded by these guys. Jazz cats. They’re probably world class. If this Industrial Jazz thing doesn’t work out they could turn around and book a session for Boz Skaggs in a heartbeat. Hell. Chicago? Jimmy Pankow? Memphis Horns? Nothing on these dudes. Listen to them. Don’t look at ’em. Just listen. Beth, listen.”
I’ve been known to blow more wind out of this mouth than anybody on stage. I continue.
“Mingus Big Band? Hell. Just listen, damn it.”
The problem is, interesting things keep happening. We can’t just listen. We have to watch. The horns leave the stage mid-song to mingle with the audience [photo], honking all the while. The dancers keep doing freaky stuff. Some guy with a beard and coiff that would make George Lucas (and Durkin) green snaps photos, nonstop. The theatre is a hive of activity.
After the break a quintet appears on stage, led by Durkin. I must admit I’m enjoying the break from the guitar – he’s a solid player but admittedly unnecessary with all that windpower on stage. The bass however is mandatory, especially in the quintet. He’s spot-on. I suddenly remember that I need to get my fretless back from that girl in Hollywood before she craigslists the bejesus out of it.
The full group reappears and the madness continues for another half-hour. The bottom line: I don’t know when they’ll have this many people playing live again, but I intend to be there.
Industrial Jazz A Go-Go: The CD Review
Bandoleero starts of with promise and quickly shifts gears into something Herb Alpert would have been proud to include on Whipped Cream & Other Delights. In general the songs shift gears tonally and rhythmically, as often as possible, and refuse to end. Blatantly refuse. They start with a hook, implode into chaos and culminate in Elmer Bernstein’s darkest fantasies. I must admit I’m having trouble concentrating but this I know: Saxophonist Cory Wright’s intro on Baby, Shake That Thing is absolutely. Nuts. Killer. Not to be missed. I cd-rewound it six times before allowing the rest of the song to play.
The Industrial Jazz Group, Quintet Edition performs at Cafe Metropol in the Downtown Arts District on May 5. Recommended.