Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

371

Industrial Jazz Group: LEEF

By

Sign in to view read count
It's difficult to fathom a universe where someone would not enjoy listening to LEEF. One would have to be conditioned, Clockwork Orange-style, into finding the sound of musical instruments morally reprehensible. There's nothing on the Industrial Jazz Group's album that couldn't be embraced wholeheartedly by someone with an otherwise unrepentant disdain for all things jazzy.



It's fitting that composer, pianist and band leader Andrew Durkin (whose PhD is in English Literature) admires the work of Donald Barthelme, the late author known for verbal collage and whose wackiness did not contradict his status as a literary giant. LEEF's compositions are steeped in post-everythingisms, and what could have been a straightforward document of a May 2007 gig at Amsterdam's Bimhuis is given the collage treatment via musique concrete and other abstractive embellishments.



A strong melodist, Durkin knows which intervals, timbres, chord changes and style choices can maximize the elements of humor and surprise. The IJG's fifteen members execute those tasks superbly, tackling everything from polytonality and organized chaos to ebullient soul and dance-band schmaltz. It takes tremendously skilled players to navigate the wide terrain of charts like "Bongo Non Troppo" and the short attention span-friendly "Fuck the Muck" with such apparent ease. Jill Knapp, the group's outstanding vocalist, takes an engaging musical theater of the absurd approach to Durkin's sardonic lyrics.



The band shouldn't be disserviced by marginalization as comedy though, because the group aesthetic is that there is no group aesthetic. That being said, they function well as a party band, if that's desired.



But LEEF is as cerebral as it is silly, right down to its clever sequencing. Trombonist Mike Richardson's "Road Poem"—alas, the lone track that feels a bit too in-jokey, like the "touring can make you crazy" satire of Frank Zappa's 200 Motels—is nevertheless a fine segue into "Big Ass Truck," a song that demonstrates that Durkin could be writing great pop-rock if only he had a narrower instrumental imagination. Elsewhere, chants of "Oh yes, I'm bad/Bad to the bone" (presumably by the trombonists) in "What's In Anne's Icebox?" lead into an allusion to a "guy with horns" in "The Job Song."

"The Job Song" will offer laughs to anyone who has pursued an artistic career against the financial advice of parents, teachers, and—Satan? The moral is that doing what one loves yields rewards far greater than monetary ones; the song proves its own thesis beautifully (it hails from the band leader's days with another polystylistic group, The Evelyn Situation, which also featured Knapp).



It helps that LEEF's humor is self-effacing. Durkin is the Conan O'Brien of jazz, joking about the band's alleged lack of appeal when so much evidence exists to the contrary (Durkin's biography labels him a "hack composer and pseudo-intellectual"). During "Ladies and Gentlemen," Knapp sings of the band, "I hope you like them but I doubt you will." That's the most absurd idea on an album full of absurd ideas—the suggestion that anyone could dislike a band that's so overwhelmingly likable.


Track Listing: Ladies and Gentlemen; And Go; Don't Let 'Em Getcha; PDX LIX LAX; My Guitar; Bongo Non Troppo; What's Industrial Jazz?; What's in Anne's Icebox?; The Job Song; The Hotdog Hat; Howl; Big Ass Preview; Richardson's Road Poem; Big Ass Truck; Fuck the Muck (part one); Fuck the Muck (part two); Big Ass Truck (radio edit); The Job Song (radio edit).

Personnel: Beth Schenck, Cory Wright, Evan Francis, Brian Walsh, Katarina Thomsen, Josh Sinton, Damon Zick, Dan Boissy, and Ben Wendel: saxophones; Phil Rodriguez, Dan Rosenboom, Andre Canniere, and Kris Tiner: trumpets; Wolter Wierbos, James Hirschfeld, and Mike Richardson: trombone; Oliver Newell: bass; Dan Schnelle: drums; Jill Knapp: vocals; Andrew Durkin: compositions, conducting, piano.

Title: Leef | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Evander Music

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Read more articles
Leef

Leef

Evander Music
2009

buy
Leef

Leef

Evander Music
2008

buy
 

Industrial Jazz A Go...

Innova Recordings
2006

buy
The Star Chamber

The Star Chamber

Innova Recordings
2005

buy

Related Articles

Read School of Fish Album Reviews
School of Fish
By Dan McClenaghan
March 23, 2019
Read Blood Album Reviews
Blood
By John Sharpe
March 23, 2019
Read Around Again: The Music Of Carla Bley Album Reviews
Around Again: The Music Of Carla Bley
By Jerome Wilson
March 23, 2019
Read Hydro 2 Album Reviews
Hydro 2
By Mark Corroto
March 23, 2019
Read Old School Revolution Album Reviews
Old School Revolution
By Chris M. Slawecki
March 23, 2019
Read Cuando Sea Necesario Album Reviews
Cuando Sea Necesario
By Dan McClenaghan
March 22, 2019
Read West 60th Album Reviews
West 60th
By Peter Hoetjes
March 22, 2019