Amongst the noodling and PhDs on polyrhythmic time signatures, it’s easy to forget that jazz was at one point the dance music of its time. Thankfully March has offered up an unusual number of party-ready jazz acts.
For those who really want to cut loose, there’s a sure-to-be-packed show from local band Honey, who’ll be playing two sets of disco belters at the Night Cat. The buzz for this band is high – get in early.
The five core members who make up the main group met while studying at jazz school. That training contributes to tight, non-stop sets of classic disco covers interspersed with original material. On the night, the band will also be backed up by a small brass section.
Those original tracks won’t be released until later this year, so if disco’s your thing, get down in person to check the vibe, which drummer James Legg describes as “sending out positivity, sending out love into the world. It might be a bit 60s hippy, but we just love creating groove in music.”
Honey plays the Night Cat March 31. Tickets here.
Cuban singer Daymé Arocena fuses musical traditions from the island’s Santeria religion (which in itself combines elements of Yoruban folklore with the stories of Catholic saints) with ’50s rumba, jazz and her training as a choir leader. She’s been recognised by big names including jazz legend Wynton Marsalis and champion of non-western music BBC Radio 6 Music DJ Gilles Peterson. Arocena’s music is a beguiling and heady mix that encapsulates a wider movement in which geographical borders around Cuba are beginning to open to the rest of the world. You can almost hear Fidel Castro’s death rattle in the percussive ridges of the guiro.
Daymé Arocena plays as part of the Brunswick Music Festival March 4–18.
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble
These eight brothers are the sons of renowned jazz trumpeter Phil Cohran, a one-time member of America’s influential Sun Ra Arkestra. As kids their father would wake them at 6am to practice before school, and have them back on the horns when they got home.
Growing up in ’90s Chicago meant they took on influences from hip-hop as much as their dad’s pioneering experimental jazz. They contributed several tracks to Plastic Beach, the third album from the Gorillaz, as well as working with Erykah Badu, Snoop Dogg and Ghostface Killah.
The band is playing two shows as part of the Brunswick Music Festival, the pick of which is a tiny and likely sweaty show at the Jazz Lab, Michael Tortoni’s new venue (set up following the sale of his beloved Bennetts Lane jazz bar in the CBD).
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble play as part of the Brunswick Music Festival March 4–18.
SHOW HAS PASSED: Kamasi Washington
Virtuoso saxophonist Kamasi Washington is part of a new wave of musicians, including celebrated bassist Thundercat, finding acclaim among audiences and critics outside the world of jazz. Both artists contributed to Kendrick Lamar’s astounding albums To Pimp a Butterfly and Damn.
Washington’s breakout album The Epic is most certainly that, featuring three discs and over 170 minutes of celestial, synapse-unwinding jazz explorations. The album’s got the bombast to blow Zeus straight off the top of Mount Olympus.
Thundercat played his own show on Thursday night, but don’t be surprised if he shows up on Washington’s stage at the Forum – they both came up together in LAs experimental, funk-forward jazz scene and frequently appear on each other’s recordings.
Kamasi Washington plays the Forum March 9. Tickets here.