Updated: Jun 4, 2021
Don't think there's any questioning anymore, human_folks -- ART the Band is Toronto's jazz-wrapped gift to the music world at large. With their latest self-titled full-length, it has been made abundantly clear that there's just no quit here, these musicians have been continually refining their craft and composition, and what we've come to witness has become more than a just a band to watch out for, they are the example of what's happening on the forefront of modern jazz in our city...we're talking calibre de Montréal Jazz Fest, directement yo!
So, what is it exactly that has earned AtB such glowing praise from not just yours truly? (I get around, I hear things ;)
Well, for starters, there're only a handful of bands around anywhere out there worldwide offering up tastefully mathy, smart grooves the way AtB does. (Must feel nice to call Snarky Puppy peers, eh?) The rhythm section is outstanding -- Austin Gembora's dynamic virtuosity on drumkit melds in glorious syncopation with e-bass player extraordinaire & newest member-addition, Sean Dennis (formerly of prog-fusion powerhouse, Tetragrid). The foundation laid down here is just irrepressible, causing one's feet and brain to bob involuntarily, often in different tempos! (Y'know the music's good when moving to it becomes as natural a function as breathing!) Topping that off we have Sean Clarey playing the most delicately beautiful chord patterns with tact & timing like no other, stabbing in and framing the sonic picture when it counts, and hoo-boy, when it comes time to solo -- it's like free-floating fingers over that fretboard! (Hear 'Scenic Coastal Drive' for more on that.)
The combo of trombone (Nick Marshall) and alto sax (Stuart Brignell) is pretty interesting when you think of it... I mean, how many bands in jazzland come to mind with this particular pairing for minimal winds section? Right off the jump that gives things a different sort of feel to anything out there, but someone's really gotta lemme know just what is up with how fuggin' good these guys are!? The synchronicity of approach is mindbowling (like, how much work does it take to nail these tricky changes so fluidly!) and the seamless interweavement of lines is totally outta-this-world. Stuart definitely brings inherent cool & flow to task thru his solos (check his movement thru 'Tappan Zee Br.' for proof of that), while Nick's style is one I don't think I'd be big-league stretching to term as charmingly brash & über-sophisticated. (C'mon down and get your 'Veggie Special'!)
Fact is, a thing like ART the Band doesn't happen very often. Not a weak link, each of these human_cats with the skill & ability to lead their own band, if ya think about it, and sure that'd probably be pretty cool, but instead they're coming together here to establish a musical statement that stands as a shining monument to the philosophy of the "sum being greater than its parts". And how lucky are we as human_ppl being gifted the privilege of forming audience for such outstandingly clever & uniquely intelligent, body-rocking music? Pretty damn lucky, I'd say.
So, take it from me and do yoursleeves a biiig favour -- head on over to AtB's Bandcamp right now and pick up an album that just might make your dd/mm/yyyy, human_friend. I know it made mine!