January 6, 2010
Photo by Lindsay Beyerstein
On Thursday, February 25th, acclaimed New York-based composer, and New England Conservatory alumnus, Darcy James Argue will return to Boston with his innovative 18-piece big band, Secret Society, for a performance at Regattabar. This will be the four year-old ensemble’s Boston debut, and first concert in New England since the release of its celebrated 2009 recording, Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam Records), which appeared on more than 70 best-of-the-year lists and was named Best Debut in the prestigious Village Voice Jazz Critics Poll.
“Argue’s tunes can command your attention anywhere,” writes Newsweek‘s Seth Colter Walls, “no small feat in our media-saturated world.” Critics called the record “a seven-track marvel of imagination” (David R. Adler, Time Out New York), “a fully integrated sound world as current as it is timeless” (Troy Collins, AllAboutJazz.com), “a nearly perfect creative synthesis between tradition and innovation” (John Eyles, BBC) and “a wickedly intelligent dispatch from the fading border between orchestral jazz and post-rock and classical minimalism” (Nate Chinen, New York Times). JazzTimes‘ Michael J. West adds, “With their haunting compositions and imaginative experiments, Argue’s Secret Society might do for jazz what Radiohead did for rock—and poach some of its audience, too.”
A Vancouver native, and former member of the Montreal jazz scene, Argue moved to New York in 2003 after earning a Master’s Degree in Boston while studying with legendary composer/arranger Bob Brookmeyer. Heralded for both his composing skills and his role as one of the jazz world’s most prominent bloggers, he has been profiled on National Public Radio (NPR) and in publications such as Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal. His rise to prominence in 2009 was further aided by notable performances around New York as well as in Germany, The Netherlands and Canada, where he conducted an all-star performance of a new, specially commissioned piece at the National Jazz Awards. The Boston Globe‘s Joan Anderman concludes, “Argue is that rare bird in any genre—an original thinker—but his real gift is in transposing big ideas into music that is as inviting as it is innovative.”
January 1, 2010
In his first post of the new decade, NPR jazz blogger Patrick Jarenwattananon, lamenting his lack of participation in the recently released Village Voice Jazz Critics Poll, writes about his ten favorite moments from the many jazz recordings he’s heard in 2009, including Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam) and Fay Victor’s The FreeSong Suite (Greene Avenue Music).
December 31, 2009
Multi-facted jazz industry veteran Neil Tesser writes about what he feels are the 10 most important jazz recordings of 2009 in his capacity as the increasingly prolific Chicago Jazz Music Examiner at Examiner.com
At number four on his list is Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam).
“Darcy James Argue’s 18-piece jazz orchestra had never made an album,” Tesser recalls, “for those outside of New York, the band existed primarily in rumor and reputation. Then comes this collection of seven brilliantly scored, utterly inventive, masterfully performed large-scale works, each brimming with high energy and new sounds, but also showing a firm command of the big-band tradition.”
He adds, “The Vancouver-born Argue studied with Bob Brookmeyer, a legendary figure in jazz orchestration, known first for his work with Gerry Mulligan in the 50s and then, in the 80s, with what is now the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. But I hear in Argue’s work a more direct link to the man who provided the seeds for the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra – the composer and arranger Thad Jones, who rewrote the book on jazz composition in the 1970s. (And in my book, praise doesn’t come much higher than that.)“
December 30, 2009
Larry Blumenfeld writes about his favorite CDs of the year, including Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam), in today’s Wall Street Journal.
“Composer and big-band leader Darcy James Argue’s blog contains some of the most literate and invigorating writing about modern jazz and its context—free of cliché, wary of dogma, catholic about tastes, and fastidious about details. The same can be said of Mr. Argue’s compositions for the extraordinary ensemble he conducts. This debut studio recording reveals something fully matured: brimming with fresh ideas; elegant in its combination of disparate influences (from distorted electric guitar to magisterial wind-instrument arrangements to minimalist rhythms); and accomplished in execution.”
December 29, 2009
In what essentially amounts to a second Christmas morning for jazz publicists and their clients, the anxiously awaited results of the prestigious Village Voice Jazz Critics Poll, as overseen by the esteemed Francis Davis, have been published.
99 writers voted this year, each submitting a Top 10 list (the ballots are then compiled using a point system to create an overall Top 50), as well as single picks in the Jazz Reissue of the Year, Best Debut, Best Vocal Album, Best Debut and Best Latin categories.
It gives us great pleasure to report that four of our clients’ releases were recognized in the Jazz Album of the Year category:
#04: Darcy James Argue, Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam)
#12: Bill Dixon, Tapestries For Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records)
#17: Darius Jones Trio, Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity)
#35: David S. Ware, Shakti (AUM Fidelity)
We’re also extremely pleased to report that Infernal Machines took the Best Debut category in a landslide victory, with Man’ish Boy finishing a well-deserved second.
And, in what might be considered the biggest coup of all, The Fay Victor Ensemble’s The FreeSong Suite (Greene Avenue Music) finished fourth in the Best Vocal Album category, only six votes behind the winner: this year’s critical darling, Gretchen Parlato. It’s very much worth pointing out that Fay’s record was the only finalist featuring all-original music. We couldn’t be prouder.
Congratulations to all the artists recognized and thanks again to all the critics who voted (check out the individual ballots here) and especially to Mr. Davis who makes the whole thing possible (and gracefully sums up the whole process here).
December 29, 2009
AllAboutJazz-New York published its annual Best of 2009 feature in the new January issue and we’re very proud to say our clients are well-represented.
Special congratulations to those recognized as the year’s best in the following categories:
Albums of the Year
Darcy James Argue, Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam Records)
Bill Dixon, Tapestries for Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records)
David S. Ware, Shakti (AUM Fidelity)
John Hébert, Byzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12 Records)
Darius Jones Trio, Man’ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) (AUM Fidelity)
The Fay Victor Ensemble, The FreeSong Suite (Greene Avenue Music)
Large Ensemble Releases
Darcy James Argue, Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam Records)
Albums of the Year – Honorable Mention
Cleaver/Parker/Taborn, Farmers By Nature (AUM Fidelity)
Harris Eisenstadt, Canada Day (Clean Feed)
Garrison Fewell, Variable Density Sound Orchestra (Creative Nation Music)
KLANG, Tea Music (Allos Documents)
Michael Musillami Trio + 3, From Seeds (Playscape Recordings)
December 28, 2009
We were away much of last week dreaming of dancing sugar plums and rockin’ around the Christmas tree, but the year-end lists featuring Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam) continued to flow as freely as egg nog in our rare but enjoyable absence.
Here’s a quick summary to get you caught up:
1. The AMN Top 5 of 2009 at AvantMusicNews.com
2. Michael J. West’s Top 10 Jazz Albums of 2009 in the Washington City Paper
3. Jacob Teichroew’s Best Jazz Albums of 2009 at jazz.about.com
“Argue’s pieces are haunting and eruptive, and his dextrous band is capable of thrilling maneuvers.”
4. Peter Hum’s 10 Best Jazz CDs of the 2000’s at Jazzblog.ca
“Years in the making, this disc by the Vancouver-raised, New York-based composer and bandleader points the way ahead for big bands. Argue’s music is fresh and intoxicating, unfurling dramatic surprises and conventional beauties while tapping indie rock and ambient music for references.”