The world is in the midst of an electronic music renaissance, and you find most of this boon of producers laying claim to the club-friendly, bass-dropping variety, holing up in the the free-flowing world of hip-hop beatmaking or pitching their tent on the out-there, boundary-pushing EDM camp.
Broncho has never been hurting in the hook department. The success of the trio’s 2011 debut, Can’t Get Past the Lips, was predicated mostly on its ability to marry melodies with kinetic guitar riffs and anarchic energy. Yet we’ve heard nothing to the degree of pure pop catchiness on display in “Class Historian,” the new single from Broncho’s upcoming sophomore album, Just Enough Hip to Be Woman.
No one wants to be forgotten; everyone wants some sort of legacy, a mark they leave behind as they exit this life for whatever lies beyond.
And for as long as there has been death, there have been monuments — whether austere or understated, abstract or concrete, prominent or tucked away in private — erected by the ones they loved to assure that remembrance, at least for a time.
Some of the best albums and artists were born out of happy accidents owed to varying degrees of early suckage — the perfect note or chord for a song found by missing the one you are aiming for, failed mimicry of an idol bearing something entirely new and great instead.
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey 9:30 p.m. Friday The Deli 309 White, Norman thedeli.us 321-7048 $10
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey has never been an act to shy away from ambition. Producing more than 20 albums in 17 years should clue one into that. Then there’s massive productions like reinterpreting Beethoven’s symphonies with a 50-piece orchestra or transforming hits by Lady Gaga and Beyoncé into jazz pop epics on New Year’s Eve.
But the Tulsa band’s latest project is its most ambitious yet.
Lap steel guitarist Chris Combs was digging into the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 when the idea for translating that important piece of history into a musical project was planted. “The Race Riot Suite” came to form as simple musical vignettes that he approached founding pianist Brian Haas with while touring in Europe. With positive feedback, Combs set out to compose the entire work for not only JFJO, but also a five-piece horn section.
“I knew almost immediately that this was going to be the best record Jacob Fred had ever put out,” Haas said. “Even those rough sketches, it was obvious he was on to some real stuff. I believed from the beginning.”
The riot was devastating not just on a local, but a national level. More than 800 people were injured, with 10,000 left homeless due to fires destroying dozens of buildings. Nearly 40 people died.
It’s hardly the cheeriest of subjects, but the group felt the concept more than worthy of exploring. Not only did it have them digging into the music of tried-and-true inspirations like John Coltrane and Duke Ellington to create an era-specific soundscape, but also rooting themselves further into the fabric of their city and state’s deep history.
“We didn’t want it to come across as anything but honest,” Combs said. “This is a real thing that really happened, and it carries extra weight when you are there in the studio recording songs that are, by design, tied to an historic event. It was emotionally demanding, I guess you could say.”
The album comes out Tuesday through the band’s own Kinnara Records, but copies will be available at their show Friday at The Deli.
“People have come up with every possible reason to latch onto this record. It’s a very personal, even spiritual, thing for many. It might make them cry, or it might make them happy for some sort of redemption there. It’s made people angry,” Haas said. “It’s so different from person to person. That’s what makes a good piece of art.”
As daunting as this effort was to undertake, the thought of topping it is even more so.
“This changed my idea of what a Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey record could be and should be,” he said. “I only put out records that are better than the ones before it. What am I supposed to do next?”