Youngblood Brass Band go right for the neck; they sound damn confident they’re gonna get ya, and they’re probably right. Their new album asks, Is That a Riot? — good question. For more than five years, YBB have been manhandling jazz out of the dark millennial conservatory and down to street level, where everybody can join in. With bass drum strapped to chest and trumpets, trombones, sax & sousaphone blaring, they strut and play off each other New Orleans–style while pumping a non-easy Northern aggro. (They’re based in Madison.) A soapbox political aspect kicks in, too, as vocal raps about war and nukes jump out of the mix, unsubtle but bristling with rhythm and believable energy. It’s not a question of “popularizing” jazz or preserving a form; these dudes are just tapping into the dynamic physical triggers that will continue to make humans shake as long as we retain hearts and butts.
Since intensity ain’t everything, the Youngblood gang stock a full complement of composing and arranging skills. Rapper and percussion cuss D.H. Skogen splits most of the writing with trumpeter Charley Wagner, and they deliver counterpointy rave-stomp (“March”), powerhouse Latin drive (“But You Can’t Run”) and even spindrift loveliness rendered unstatic by crisp cymbal acceleration (“Ake”). It’s original. And entertaining. And (yay) rude.
Youngblood Brass Band play the Knitting Factory on Tuesday, May 23.
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When the English electric-guitar extrapolator Derek Bailey died last Christmas, a community of L.A. musicians really felt it. Yeah, he was kind of unknown, and, yeah, he was 75. But there are many whose artistic paths would not have been the same if they hadn’t experienced the way he thought about music. First, no pure noise guy, he understood the whole world of harmony and melody: His spacious solo rendition of old tunes like “Laura” on the 2002 Tzadik recording Ballads showed how simplicity can imply everything. Second, he emphasized the interaction with his instrument as a physical act, his treble turned all the way up so you could appreciate the almost painfully acute sensitivity that electricity and magnetism can bring to strings and fingers. Third, notes were only one part of an improvisational technique that could reproduce any scrape/cluster/tension he could imagine.
So a bunch of our freest-thinking players are putting on a concert to memorialize not so much Derek Bailey’s music (inimitable) as his mind. They’re Jessica Catron (cello), Alex Cline (percussion), Jeremy Drake (guitar), Harris Eisenstadt (percussion), Anne LeBaron (harp), David Rothbaum (analog synth), Sara Schoenbeck (bassoon), Kris Tiner (trumpet) and Ben Wright (bass). If you’re still reading, you probably know most of them already.
Derek Bailey Memorial Concert at Café Metropol, Sunday, May 21.