FORMED IN 2001, The Respect Sextet is a powerhouse ensemble dedicated to performing a wide variety of improvisational musics. Relying on their explosive energy, rare telepathy, outstanding musicianship and a deep friendship, Respect pieces together free improvisations, original compositions, free jazz classics, television commercial jingles, text pieces, jazz standards, game pieces and more into "a whirling collage," shouts Exclaim! Magazine, "that ransacks and reshapes the entire jazz tradition, from New Orleans march to Misha Mengelberg, Sun Ra to Charlie Parker." The group comprises Josh Rutner (reeds, radio, toys), Eli Asher (trumpet, toys), James Hirschfeld (trombone, jamespectronics, toys), Malcolm Kirby (bass), Red Wierenga (piano, keyboard, accordion, redspectronics) and Ted Poor (drums). After releasing three limited-edition live CDs, (respect.), (respectacle.), and a mini-CD (respookt.), Respect introduced The Full Respect, a studio melange in which "all those outlandish musical gestures and experiments are distilled," as critic Chad Oliveri wrote, "into a frighteningly efficient package." The Full Respect was named #3 Jazz CD of the Year by Jazz 90.1FM, and music from the album was featured in the short film Who's Your Daddy?
, an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival, 2004.
In January 2005, Respect released Respect In You, a free-wheeling live recording featuring guest bassist Matt Clohesy. The album received rave reviews from jazz magazines including Cadence, ParisTransatlantic, Exclaim! and Coda, and was listed in several as one of 2005's ten best records. "Forget about the wan, self-conscious eclecticism that's the bane of the current jazz scene," wrote critic Nate Dorward, "this is the real deal, burning hard and bright."
Their newest album, Sirius Respect, (Mode/Avant, 2009), brings together the music of Sun Ra and Karlheinz Stockhausen and views them through Respect-colored glasses. In Respect's inimitable style, pieces ranging from Stockhausen's "Tierkreis" (inspired by the Zodiac) to Sun Ra's "Saturn" are juxtaposed, layered, deconstructed and re-assembled.
The Respect Sextet, through its eclecticism, its devotion to improvisation, its predilection towards swing, and its use of toys and "little instruments," has drawn comparisons both to New Dutch Swing and the AACM.
Many dialectics are at work (and play) in Respect's music, in which the serious, heady, and intellectual mingle with the light, comic, and absurd, where compositions alternate with improvisations, and where tight ensemble work coexists with loose, empathic interplay.