Home » Jazz Articles » Bonzo Squad: Pachyderm


Album Review

Bonzo Squad: Pachyderm


Sign in to view read count
Bonzo Squad: Pachyderm
The Chicago-based quartet Bonzo Squad describes their music as "comfort in chaos." While this description might give an impression of free-form experimentation, it is not the case. The chaos aspect of their sound comes from a unique mixture of structure and improvisation, and for these guys, the comfort definitely outweighs the chaos. With Pachyderm, the group offers a perfect example of this description put into practice.

Comfort implies an association with a memory, as is the case with comfort food. For Bonzo Squad, the music connects with the audience by serving new compositions containing similar hints of familiarity. Like tasting a dish and trying to figure out its ingredients, Pachyderm incorporates various musical influences without sounding derivative. Rather than being able to identify certain specific similarities, the music allows for more intangible connections, which are definitely comforting.

The chaos aspect comes from the group's improvisational approach. Much of their sound seems reminiscent of a jam band feel. Although jam bands are often associated with rock, many jazz artists such as Snarky Puppy or Medeski Martin & Wood have established their own fanbases in the jam band world. Bonzo Squad could easily fit into this niche as well.

The band consists of Corbin Andrick (Bonzo) on saxophone and flute, Andrew Lawrence on keyboards, Andrew Vogt on bass, and Zack Marks on drums. They first got together through recording sessions and jam sessions. The session work included a variety of genres from rock and funk to classical and jazz. After playing together, they obviously discovered not only a musical connection but a personal camaraderie as well. The band obviously enjoys playing together, and this feeling comes across to the audience.

Each of the songs features catchy grooves, providing a solid foundation for improvisation, but they also have a clear melodic structure as well. Songs such as "Commencement" and "Golden Castle" feature tight grooves and syncopation, incorporating elements of funk, fusion, and bebop. "Arboretum" still grooves but also has a movie soundtrack quality about it. "Langebaan" brings in guest musicians, Matt Gold on guitar and Juan Pastor on percussion, and "Abby's Toy Piano" includes an actual toy piano in the mix.

By considering the name Bonzo Squad, it might be tempting to think the music would have some humorous elements. This is certainly not the case. This is serious music, and these players are in top form. However, Pachyderm is an enjoyable album, which embodies the group's comfort and chaos mantra. They show how serious music can also be fun at the same time.

Track Listing

Commencement; Nobleland; Golden Castle; Arboretum; Langebaan; The Fall of Lawrence; Abby's Toy Pian.


Corbin Andrick: saxophone; Andrew Lawrence: keyboards; Andrew Vogt: bass; Zack Marks: drums; Matt Gold: guitar; Juan Pastor: drums.

Album information

Title: Pachyderm | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Bent River Records

Post a comment about this album

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.




Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.