Darcy James Argue + John Hébert On Jim Macnie’s Top 10 Jazz CDs Of 2009 List

December 22, 2009

Jim Macnie (DownBeat, Village Voice, et al.) listed his Top 10 Jazz CDs of 2009 yesterday on his blog, Lament for a Straight Line, and we’re proud to report Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam) and John Hébert’s Byzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12 Records) made the cut.

“The composer-arranger has an artistic GPS system built into his chest,” writes Macnie of Argue. “The way his seven extended pieces flow from one passage to another is deeply inspired, and the methods behind his integration of electric guitar storms and a gaggle of horns are sage. Best part: the big band constantly throws its listeners curve after curve without sounding fractured or episodic.”

In his blurb about Hébert, Macnie writes, “One of the era’s most gripping bassists puts reeds and flutes up front for a freebop session that stretches from ancient Cajun artifacts to abstract ballads lyrical enough to have fallen from Don Cherry’s pen. What the pieces lack in compositional distinction, they make up for in textural richness. And atmosphere—mood means a lot to Hebert.”

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New Taylor Ho Bynum CD Released Today

September 15, 2009
Photo by Scott Friedlander

Photo by Scott Friedlander

Cornetist/composer Taylor Ho Bynum‘s latest recording as a leader, Madeleine Dreams (Firehouse 12 Records), officially hits the streets today.

The second release from his improvising chamber group, SpiderMonkey Strings, the record documents the title suite, a secular oratorio the group has been performing at concerts around the world since early 2008, as well as innovative arrangements of music by Ornette Coleman, Duke Ellington and Sun Ra.

This seven year-old ensemble features Kyoko Kitamura (voice), Jason Kao Hwang (violin), Jessica Pavone (viola), Tomas Ulrich (cello), Pete Fitzpatrick (guitar), Joseph Daley (tuba) and Luther Gray (drums).

Bynum and the group will celebrate with two sets at New York’s Jazz Gallery on Saturday, September 19th.

In his listing for the performance in the Village Voice, Jim Macnie writes, “Whether he’s making cinematic soundscapes for snippets of his sister’s surrealistic novel, or bringing a heavenly tone to such earthy fare as Ellington’s ‘The Mooche,’ the cornet player makes music that places nuance on the top of the priority list. The vocals are fetching and flighty; the repertory choices discerning and deft.”


DownBeat Puts Darcy James Argue In The Hot Box

August 11, 2009


We know what you’re thinking, “Nobody puts Darcy James Argue in a Hot Box!”

And normally you’d be right, but DownBeat is the exception. The September issue finds Argue’s acclaimed debut, Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam Records), entered into the Thunderdome-like monthly reviews feature called The Hot Box.

Okay, it’s not quite that extreme, as all four CDs that enter usually get to leave as well (often with a limp), but it does involve four critics holding four buzzed-about new records to a higher standard in what might be more accurately compared to a Senate confirmation hearing.

Do 33 year-old steampunk big band leaders have a wiser and more empathetic insight into the major issues of the day? That’s a question for another time, but we can report that our hero fared well.

“With his throbbing beats, drones, brass choirs, space-age eeriness and billowing clouds of sound, Argue is clearly an original,” declared Paul de Barros in one of the capsule reviews.

In the featured review, Jim Macnie wrote, “There’s a critical consensus around this disc, but few pundits are stressing just how gorgeous Argue’s motifs are. Infernal Machines is addictive not only for its architecture, but for its fetching way with color…we’ll be remembering it for quite some time.”

Argue and the group will next perform on back-to-back nights in September at the New Languages Festival and The Jazz Gallery. Stay tuned for more dates in October and November to be announced soon!


More Best Of 2009 So Far Lists

August 5, 2009

Despite the fact that we’re already in the first week of August (the eighth month on the calendar for those of you scoring at home), the best-of lists for the first half of the year continue to trickle in.

This has been a pretty popular new trend this year, especially with bloggers, and late or no we’re not complaining, especially when our clients are still appearing on them.

And none of our clients has been found quite so list-worthy as Darcy James Argue, whose May debut, Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam), continues to capture the hearts and minds of critics everywhere.

That includes both the Ottawa Citizen‘s Peter Hum and Village Voice and DownBeat contributor Jim Macnie, who also chose John Hébert’s Byzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12), the Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet’s Asphalt Flowers Forking Paths (hatOLOGY) and the Mario Pavone Double Tenor Quintet’s Ancestors (Playscape Recordings) among his favorites, though technically the last two actually came out in 2008.

As always, we thank all our media contacts for their ongoing support of independent creative improvised music.


Darcy James Argue To Perform At New Languages Festival & Jazz Gallery In September

July 21, 2009
Photo by Ben Anaman

Photo by Ben Anaman

This September, composer/conductor Darcy James Argue and his 18-piece steampunk big band, Secret Society, will perform in New York on two consecutive nights.

On Thursday, September 17th at 11:30 p.m., the group will appear at the fifth annual New Languages Festival at McCarren Hall in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The following night, at 9:00 and 10:30 p.m, Argue and the ensemble will return to Manhattan’s Jazz Gallery, which commissioned two of the tracks heard on its acclaimed debut, Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam). These concerts will mark the first-ever performances of Argue’s latest composition.

Critics have credited Argue with creating “a nearly perfect creative synthesis between tradition and innovation” (John Eyles, BBC.com), “a fully integrated sound world as current as it is timeless” (Troy Collins, AllAboutJazz.com) and “startling and satisfying original music played by some very impressive musicians” (Michael G. Nastos, AllMusic.com).

“We’re just past the halfway point, and the acclaimed young bandleader’s Infernal Machines is 2009’s consensus jazz disc,” adds the Village Voice‘s Jim Macnie. “A fanfare here, a freak-out there, enough dark hues and ingenious oddities to woo a twenty-something audience that doesn’t know or care about the ancient stack o’ riffs that big bands were built on; it’s all here.”

A native of Vancouver, 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 Bob Brookmeyer. Since the debut of Secret Society in 2005, he has become one of the most visible and respected musicians in New York, as well as one of the jazz world’s most prolific and influential bloggers.

His recent career highlights include profiles in publications such as the New York ObserverNewsweek, the Wall Street Journal and the Village Voice, three nominations in this year’s Jazz Journalists Association Awards and performances at such notable European venues as the Bimhuis in Amsterdam and the legendary Moers Festival in Germany. Learn more at http://secretsociety.typepad.com


Cleaver/Parker/Taborn’s Farmers By Nature Out Today

February 10, 2009

Today is the official street date for Farmers by Nature (AUM Fidelity), the recorded debut of the two year-old collective trio of drummer Gerald Cleaver, bassist William Parker and pianist Craig Taborn.

Conceived by Cleaver, this communion of notable improvisers was founded to create a distinctive brand of music based on spontaneously sowing seeds of sound and bringing them to full blossom.

This live recording documents the all-star ensemble’s performance at The Stone in New York on June 19th, 2008.

Here’s a sample of the media response thus far:

“…these three musicians interrogate one another with patience and poise.”
Nate Chinen, New York Times

“All three are staunchly subtle and interactive players, so the improvisations stay on track even when they partake of tempestuous density.”
Time Out New York

“Fully improvised, the trio’s poetic abstractions have a pastoral side that comes from digging the soil and growing something valuable. It’s a testament to rumination, and whether they’re storming or floating, the kinetics are the compelling kind.”
Jim Macnie, Village Voice

“This lively collaborative trio, convened but not really led by drummer Gerald Cleaver, delights in free improvisations full of a remarkable variety of color, texture, energy, and melody. Yet despite the wide range and contrasts, the music never loses its coherence or sense of purpose…everyone is listened to and supported and offers up suggestions and ideas that turn into fruitful directions for the band to explore. Like the farmers of the album’s title, this trio excels at planting kernels of sound and letting the music flower and flourish.”
Ed Hazell, Point of Departure

“…enthralling music that is organic and spontaneous. The sheer movement and constant exchange of ideas flows like a tidal wave of energy. When taken in its entirety, it is simply stunning.”
Mark F. Turner, AllAboutJazz.com


Harris Eisenstadt At Brooklyn’s Ibeam In March

February 3, 2009

 Drummer/composer Harris Eisenstadt will be in residence at Brooklyn’s Ibeam Music Studio every Saturday night in March. 

This series of four concerts will feature the first-ever performances of his new nonet, Harris Eisenstadt’s Woodblock Prints, featuring Mike McGinnis (clarinet), Jason Mears (alto saxophone), Sara Schoenbeck (bassoon), Mark Taylor (French horn), Brian Drye (trombone), Jose Davila (tuba), Jonathan Goldberger (electric guitar) and Garth Stevenson (bass). 

The group’s music is inspired by depictions of nature found in Japanese woodblock prints, an ancient form of relief printing created from intricately carved wood.

“Eisenstadt is strong proof that jazz is still young and growing,” declared L.A. Weekly‘s Greg Burk.  Critics have called him “a rising presence as a composer of note” (Troy Collins, AllAboutJazz.com), “vital and increasingly influential” (Glenn Astarita, jazzreview.com) and “one of the most creative and skilled musician/composers incorporating traditional material to create new and vital improvised music” (Robert Iannapollo, AllAboutJazz-New York). 

The Village Voice‘s Jim Macnie adds, “He’s perpetually building new ensembles to suit the variety of music he hears in his head—that’s what composers do.”

One of only a handful of drummers equally well-known for his work as a composer, Eisenstadt is among the most versatile and prolific musicians of his generation.  His eclectic resume includes studies with some of the most respected names in both improvised music and West African drumming, and performances in genres ranging from film and theater to poetry and dance to contemporary classical and opera. 

Most active in jazz and improvised music, as both an in-demand sideman and a bandleader, he has performed all over the globe, earned commissions from organizations such as Meet The Composer and the American Composers Forum, and appeared on more than 35 recordings over the past decade.  His latest, Guewel (Clean Feed, 2008), was named one of the year’s best in publications such as AllAboutJazz.com, Time Out New York and the Village Voice.