There are a lot of people who consider jazz boring or “don’t get it.” The vast majority of people who have a diet of mainstream music don’t seem to have the patience for jazz. They can’t get past the fact that there isn’t a hook or a repetitive mantra that gets hopelessly embedded in your head. It’s a shame because anyone who is a dedicated music fan knows that jazz is expressive, meaningful, and relevant, and is just as engaging as any other genre out there.
The thing is not to shun those people or act snobby that they don’t appreciate it. What you have to do is ease them into it. Don’t throw free jazz from a group like Art Ensemble of Chicago into their face and expect them to get it when they have been listening to Coldplay and Fun for the last two years.
You need to find a jazz group that can meld pop accessibility with the possibilities that jazz creates. Mice In The Walls EP by Midnight Magpie might be the quintessential crossover jazz release that will have your friend listening to Django Reinhardt as well as bands like Radiohead.
Midnight Magpie is one of the most original jazz bands I have heard in recent memory. The ensemble comprised of Richie Smooth (bass), Hamish Campbell-Legg (drummer), Heather May Corvid (vocals) Dan Williams (keys, computer) and Leander Jones (vocals, guitar, clarinet, alto saxophone) bring in a rich variety of instrumentation that is technically impressive as well as creatively engaging.
The seven-minute first track “Walk Beside You” begins with bass, acoustic guitar and fantastic vocal work. When I say fantastic vocal work that is not an overstatement. The vocal harmonies that Jones and Corvid sing aren't just in unison. They start at different times, sing together and then sing different parts. The percussion that enters into the mix adds some energy.
The highlight of the four songs is “Guilt.” I was pretty taken back by the percussion on this song. It’s nuanced and contains original sounding elements that drive the song. The wood instruments, guitars, etc. create a warm atmospheric canvas that dare I say it reminded me a bit of Radiohead as well as Talk Talk. The last minute or so gets into pure avant-garde territory and points to greater things to come from the band.
The debut EP Mice In The Walls from this band has got me excited for their future. Great work here from a group of musicians that made an accessible yet experimental EP that many people should enjoy.
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