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LIVE REVIEWS

Chicago Jazz Festival 2018

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Chicago Jazz Festival Chicago, IL August 29-September 2, 2018 A Beginner's Guide to the Chicago Jazz Festival The Chicago Jazz Festival is a free event scheduled each Labor Day weekend and offering over fifty concerts in various outdoor venues. The 40th edition--running from August 29 to September 3, 2018--is now in the books. If you attended this year--or in recent years past--you already have a pretty good idea whether or not the Chicago Jazz ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Darcy James Argue's Secret Society: Brooklyn Babylon

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Part of the audience engagement process in multimedia performance is the integral dynamic of conflict and resolution between forms. Take one of them away and you have a different sensory experience. So, having witnessed graphic artist Danijel Zezelj and Darcy James Argue's Secret Society create separate but integrated works of art in the live performance of Brooklyn Babylon, it's challenging to antedate expectations around what may seem to be one part of an equation. However, Argue's release of the suite ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Darcy James Argue's Secret Society: Infernal Machines

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A little more than a decade ago, Maria Schneider served notice that big band jazz was no longer the domain of our grandparents. She has gone on to own the genre and now, Brooklyn resident and star Schneider pupil, Darcy James Argue's Secret Society takes it to an exceptional place with his debut, Infernal Machines. What is exceptional is how true to the pure nature of jazz this collection is; full of innovation, creativity, and bold, daring departures from the ...

MEGAPHONE

Either/Or (No More)

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You know that party game where you present people with a forced choice that's actually a litmus test for distinguishing between two kinds of people? Here, let's play--pick one (and only one): Matisse or Picasso? Federer or Nadal? The Daily Show or The Colbert Report? Since I am a “jazz composer" by training and self-identification, it seems like I'm always being asked to play this game: improvisation or composition? I am not alone in this--every composer who ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Darcy James Argue's Secret Society: Infernal Machines

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From the first listening of this album, it is clear that Darcy James Argue intends to make a strong statement about the boundaries of musical genres--of jazz and new music--as well as about musical aesthetics and technology. This album consists of Argue's compositions for “big band" (or “large ensemble," depending on whom you ask) with a dark, modernistic edge; most numbers contain pulsating drumbeats and wildly spiraling minor and diminished harmonies. An electric guitar, often distorted, also pops up here ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Darcy James Argue's Secret Society: Infernal Machines

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What's a guy to do when he has aspirations to form a big band in this day and age? Certainly the odds are against him; for one thing, there isn't much of a market for it, and the cost of taking that many musicians on the road (much less paying them) can be cost prohibitive. But if you're Darcy James Argue, you say to hell with it and form a big band anyway. The result is the Secret Society and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Darcy James Argue: Infernal Machines

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Desiring to be ensconced in an environment of music is a dream. Dreams can come true. And Darcy James Argue's band, Secret Society, catches those dreams in its first recorded effort. Taking its title from how John Philip Sousa described the phonograph at the turn of the 20th century, Infernal Machines articulates Argue's music well, in an orchestral mode, employing striking instrumental riffs, exquisite solos and exhibiting multi-instrumental, multi-faceted unity.

The musical hooks in this record are exceedingly strong. Starting ...

PROFILES

The Making of Darcy James Argue's "Infernal Machines"

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---> “It was like trying to shoot Laurence of Arabia on a Clerks budget," says the 33-year-old composer/conductor Darcy James Argue of his debut album, Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam), which will be released next Tuesday, May 12. Argue didn't have to tread such a quixotic path. Up until five years ago, he was performing as a pianist in small groups, playing clubs and jam sessions. Had he decided against dedicating himself full-time to Secret Society—his 18-piece big band—he might now ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Darcy James Argue's Secret Society: Infernal Machines

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The reverb-drenched cajon rhythm, subtle electric guitar washes and lush horn refrains that open Infernal Machines, the studio debut of Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, introduce the sound of a big band like no other--proving that the critical acclaim lavished upon this eighteen-piece ensemble since their first gig in 2005 has been entirely justified.

Despite boasting an album title quoting John Phillip Sousa on the dangers of technological music advancements, Argue's Secret Society nonetheless embraces the future, eschewing ...

INTERVIEWS

Darcy James Argue: His Secret Society

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Ahhhh, to be young and in New York and have an 18-piece band of superb musicians at your disposal.OK. Now open your eyes and come to your senses. To operate a big band these days is a fiscal and organizational nightmare. But thankfully, there are people out there running fabulous organizations, like Sue Mingus who continues to present her husband's legacy bands, Carla Bley and the brilliant Maria Schneider, whose wondrous music is food for the senses and ...