-->
Music

Keefe Jackson's Project Project: Just Like This

An up-and-coming bandleader continues to make his mark on contemporary jazz, and introduces us to a number of his talented collaborators on this impressive new release.


Keefe Jackson's Project Project

Just Like This

Label: Delmark
US Release Date: 2007-12-18
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

Chicago is a big city with a deep musical tradition, one that attracts plenty of fresh talent looking for bigger stages, bigger audiences, and bigger sounds. Like any big city, it's crowded and noisy, and not always easy to find those brighter corners in which it's possible to really stand out and make a name for oneself. The local jazz community, only a silver of the city's vast artistic and musical reservoir, is also crowded and noisy. There are plenty of bold, established players with enough reputation to dominate the scene, yet the spirit of collaboration and interconnectedness within Chicago jazz makes it possible for young upstarts to learn from the best and find their way into the public eye.

Keefe Jackson's emergence as a strong and capable bandleader is a shining example of that potential for upward motion. A little over a year ago, he made his debut as a composer and leader with Ready Everyday, directing the path for the Fast Citizens, a sextet which includes the esteemed cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and the physical, propulsive drumming of Frank Rosaly. It was a very appealing record, thanks to the eminently creative players involved and Jackson's compositional style, which blended tightly wound melodic heads with sections of free interplay that allowed his crew to butt heads and develop ideas on the spot.

Now Jackson is back, this time with the redundantly named Keefe Jackson's Project Project, a 12-man ensemble which incorporates several Fast Citizens: Rosaly, bassist Anton Hatwich, and cornet player Josh Berman. In general, the style and approach of their first release as a group, Just Like This, echoes much of Ready Everyday albeit on a much grander scale. The sound is embellished with the addition of Marc Unternahrer's robust tuba, Jeb Bishop and Nick Broste's trombones, and the dueling saxophones of alto Guillermo Gregorio and Jackson himself, who players tenor. Like a lot of jazz releases coming out of Chicago, this record can be used as something of a hub. Perusing the discographies of each musician will lead to a seemingly endless repertoire ready to be explored and consumed.

Listeners will be dazzled by the horns and woodwinds on Just Like This, but special attention should be paid to Frank Rosaly's percussion. During live performances, Rosaly is intensely animated, so much so that it seems initially distracting. He hovers over the drums in constant motion, his shoulders rolling and arms twitching in anticipation of his next strike. He puts his whole body into the drumming, and once he really kicks the songs into high gear, his curious postures no longer seem unusual but rather essential. Whether he's pounding away intensely or simply laying out a delicate hi-hat pattern, his motions seem to translate the sounds into body language, and watching him feel the music in that way really conveys the physicality of what the band is doing. He gets a nice showcase on the album a roaring drum solo at the tail end of "Titled", tumbling over the toms with great alacrity. Throughout the album though, especially on fiery tracks like "Which Well", his playing is epic and astonishing as he both supports and fights the onslaught of horns.

Jackson's compositions are taut and well-founded. His melodic ideas are clipped and stabbing though never abrupt. The vocabulary he uses is quick, to the point and brisk, like the aggressive, unrelenting cadence of an old gangster film or screwball comedy. "The Grass is Greener" runs off of a very pointed opening theme from Berman's cornet and Jaimie Branch's trumpet which loops and digs its heels in as the saxophones chase after it and the trombones try to beat it into submission. What emerges is a soft, muffled solo section that slowly builds into defiant squawking and resolves with the clattering reprise of that provocative initial theme.

Keefe Jackson's Project Project is all about new sounds and ideas yet retains somewhat of a classic big band feel, and the tight, busy compositions give the music kind of an industrial swing. The title track especially utilizes phrasing that's crystal clear and hyper-precise, the blinking, fluttering notes quickly driving themselves into memory and serving as a fertile launching pad for the musician's solos. Just Like This is a pleasure to listen to, loaded with moments of surprise and excitement. The album is another example of Keefe Jackson's leadership abilities and serves as an excellent introduction to a number of his talented, accomplished collaborators.

8
Music

The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less
7

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image