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Industrial Jazz Group: Leef

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It's hard to take anything about the Industrial Jazz Group for granted. Even the LA-based ensemble's name is misleading to the point that its leader, Andrew Durkin, feels the need to address it in the header of the group's website. "So we're not really industrial. Were The Beatles really insects?" As explanations go—humorous as they might be—it rings a little hollow. It does, however, speak volumes about IJG and its singular approach to music-making. Just when you think you've got it, when the form becomes clear, the beat insatiable, a song implodes and you're left to sift through the wreckage or a freely improvised saxophone solo is followed by a foray into '70s lounge rock. The result is rarely anything less than thrilling.

Recorded at a series of live concerts from 2004-07 and interspersed liberally with studio material, Leef is an unrelenting amalgam of shtick, pop, cabaret and classical that comes off equal parts Bernstein, Zappa and Mingus. Durkin has a hand in every aspect of Leef, including the live, often improvised performances that make up the album's core. The result is a so-called "hybrid approach," where live sections are touched up with studio material and entire passages from studio sessions are inserted into live material. Durkin attempts to tally the ratios in the album's notes and comes to a rough average 90% live material/10% studio, disregarding the entirely live "Don't Let 'em Getcha" and the studio recording of "Fuck The Muck (part one)." Thus Leef has the spontaneity of live performance along with the lightning transitions and rounded edges of a studio work. Add to that a beguiling uniqueness, humor and beauty and you have a great record by an incredible ensemble.

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; Fuck the Muck (2); Big Ass Truck (radio edit);The Job Song (radio edit).

Personnel: Beth Schenck: soprano sax, Cory Wright: soprano sax, Evan Francis: alto sax, Brian Walsh: tenor sax, Katharina Thomsen: tenor sax, Josh Sinton: baritone sax Phil Rodriguez: trumpet, Dan Rosenboom: trumpet, piccolo trumpet, Andre Canniere: trumpet, Wolter Wierbos: trombone. James Hirschfeld: trombone Jill Knapp: vocals, Oliver Newell: bass, Dan Schnelle: drums Conducted by Andrew Durkin.

Title: Leef | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Evander Music

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CD/LP/Track Review
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