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Darcy James Argue - Jazz Composers Forum

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  • Darcy James Argue
  • Darcy James Argue

    (US)

     

    Canadian Darcy James Argue is the youngest composer featured in this concert series. His vision of music for big bands has been brought to life in the Secret Society project, based in Brooklyn (New York), which was released only four years ago and immediately won critical acclaim. Argue’s big band is a classic formation of 18 members, but its sound seeks to establish itself in the twenty-first century, making use of the electroacoustic possibilities and rhythms of today’s music. He does not actually advocate the use of pop/rock compositions, but he introduces this sensibility in his work,  whether through the use of distorted electric guitars or electric piano, minimalist loops and patterns, or pulsing rock grooves. All this may happen within a single theme, because for all intents and purposes this is not pop music designed for the radio. Even when the energy comes from rock, the harmony and textures betray the sophistication of those who enjoyed the recordings of the Thad Jones and Mel Lewis orchestra, and earmarks him as a descendent of painters of sound like Bob Brookmeyer and Maria Schneider.

     
    Argue's music does not sound exactly experimental, although it is complex. Tradition also traces the contours of his compositions, even incorporating less formal timbral and harmonic elements that transform it, and may come from Radiohead, Steve Reich and Charles Mingus. There is, therefore, no superficiality in the search for contemporary notes, but a natural integration of the sources surrounding the composer.
     
    When Darcy James Argue's Secret Society album, entitled Infernal Machines, debuted in 2009, the project had already had been experimenting for four years, preceded by studies at the New England Conservatory with Bob Brookmeyer. The enthusiastic reception given to this work brought him a nomination for a Grammy, the BMI Foundation's Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize and the Hagood Hardy Award from the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, in addition to inclusion on countless lists of the best of the year. Argue became one of the most sought after jazz composers, with Big Band commissions from Danish Radio, the Hard Rubber Orchestra, the West Point Jazz Knights, the Jazz Gallery, the Manhattan New Music Project and the Jerome Foundation.
     
    The second disc, recorded in 2012 has received no less praise. Brooklyn Babylon resumes a unique combination of ingredients such as progressive jazz, Balkan folk music, dance-punk and experimental indie rock, and even waltzes, marches and the music of fair carousels.
     
    Darcy James Argue was born in Vancouver in 1975. He played trumpet in the school jazz band, and there became acquainted with a simplified version of a theme of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. He studied jazz piano at McGill University, a period during which he developed a strong interested in this orchestra’s music, especially the arrangements of Bob Brookmeyer.