saxophonist/bandleader alexander ariff recently released this debut video from his excellent ep the kraken, featuring black and white session footage of his band of jazz-trained floridians. i met alex at fsu a few years ago, when we had a jazz history class together after a few years of attending some of the same blues, jazz, funk, electronica, and poetry shows around town, along with the jazz poetry showcases he spearheaded and nearby music festivals. i know a bunch of other people in the wali sanga from the same context, but still wound up pleasantly surprised after checking out the album and coming across the jam band sensibilities on display, exhibiting a collective freedom that formal music education doesn’t necessarily entail. appropriately, the 2012 release sounds like the kind of music often presented at bear creek festival, a diverse showcase of music that typically features a long list of artists with a regional sound, a southeastern combination of funk, soul, jazz, and blues. all those elements come across here in a casual display of jazz fusion that belies the relatively young age of the musicians, songwriters, and sound engineers.
a particular favorite of mine off the album is the final track, ‘family tree,’ which features michelle medrano and natalia agüero accompanying ariff with their not-exactly-background vocals, all serving to compliment a rhythmically deft and melodically evasive theme, where an ample supply of winds play a syncopated groove atop an even more complex guitar pattern. it’s a driving and persuasive tune, finding funk combined with nimble prog rock and so much more that the individual components and categorizations fall secondary to the ultimate musical objective’s irrepressible groove.
the group originally formed in tallahassee, but are now currently based in the nyc area. check out another video from the kraken studio sessions, for the eccentric track ‘fesenjun’ — now in luxuriously decadent color! or, dive deeper into the band’s ambitions here on their website, as well as their fbook page. if you feel like disregarding the band’s recommendations to just be patient, you can find them playing in the near future at rez ball x in maryland, and they’re also working on some upcoming dates around philly.