Given economic reality, leading a big band has to rank as one of the least prudent business choices a musician can make. Aside from the logistical nightmare of corralling a dozen or more musicians to rehearse and perform, it's hard to even keep them onboard—musicians need to eat, so they go where they can make some money. There are a handful of successful jazz orchestras today—including those fronted by Maria Scheider and John Hollenbeck—but one of the most exciting is led by Brooklyn-based Darcy James Argue, a remarkably resourceful fellow leading a creative and well-rehearsed 18-piece group with boldly individualistic players like reedists Sam Sadigursky, John Ellis, and Josh Sinton; trumpeters Seneca Black and Ingrid Jensen; and trombonist Ryan Keberle, among others. On April 30 his group, Secret Society
, will release its second album, Brooklyn Babylon
(New Amsterdam), a programmatic work written in collaboration
with the Croatian visual artist Danijel Zezelj
—that's his excellent cubist charcoal work on the cover. I've only had a chance to listen to the album once, but it veers all over the map stylistically: Balkan brass throwdowns, New Orleans brass-band funk, shimmering contemporary classical polyphony, and more. It never feels like a multigenre soup, and the Secret Society never loses its translucent yet muscular identity. For a preview of the album, check out today's 12 O'Clock Track
, "Coney Island," one of the album's more introspective and episodic pieces. You'll find it after the jump.
Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, "Coney Island"
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