Big-band music hasn’t sounded this hip or vital in decades. –Keith Goetzman, Utne Reader Music Sampler
In life, bands come and go. One year is a lifetime in music. The larger the band, the harder it is to stay together; that’s just the nature of the beast.
It’s to Andrew Boscardin’s credit that his 12-piece Zubatto Syndicate is still going strong, pumping out even more incredibly diverse music after four productive years onstage in various “unconventional spaces all around Seattle,” and with a successful 2011, self-titled debut album.
Naturally, bandleader Boscardin intends to mark Zubatto Syndicate’s fourth anniversary with a raucous, November 10th, 8 p.m., concert of all-new material, plus special guests Moraine, an art-rock jazz quintet, and Syrinx Effect, the duo of Naomi Siegel and Kate Olson, at Seattle’s Columbia City Theater.
“This performance marks the beginning of our fifth year of active duty, a milestone, which is a feat in itself for a band this size,” composer/guitarist Boscardin affirmed. “With a brand new set of songs [written, arranged and presented through support from 4Culture], plans for more performances both in Seattle and beyond, and a new record to make, this promises to be our biggest year to date.”
In 2009, Boscardin — always searching for the next, great collaborative effect — envisioned a jazz big band like no other. He wanted to throw in all of the cool musical styles that moved him, fully utilizing the rhythm section for a “unique synthesis.” The result is a big band sound that’s “Maria Schneider meets the Mahavishnu Orchestra”/“Roots meet Radiohead by way of Mingus.”
Back in the beginning, Zubatto Syndicate was mostly in Boscardin’s head. “When I sat down in the summer of 2009 to write the music for Zubatto Syndicate, the band was almost entirely conceptual – I had an instrumentation in mind, but I didn’t have all of the players identified or know what they would bring to the mix,” Boscardin described. “I had a sound in my head, but I didn’t know what would work, what wouldn’t work, what would come across and what might get lost in the din of such a big group. The cement was still wet, the blueprints still on the drawing board. Writing that music, rehearsing and performing it was the thing that gave life to the band.”
Together, these musicians and what they brought to the big band directed Boscardin to the next level, the follow-up. “This time around, I knew what manner of creature I was dealing with, because I’ve been living with the band and this music, working with it for all this time. I knew what works, where to focus my energy – I knew what ground we’ve mined and what places are yet to be explored,” Boscardin said. “I knew the players (even though we have a number of new faces this time around) and could write to the strengths of the individuals and the band. In short, the first music was written for an imaginary band that hadn’t been brought to life. This new music is written for a living, breathing organism that has a voice, an identity all its own. The result is a much stronger, richer, more confident set of music.”
Boscardin gathered only the best Seattle musicians, like-minded explorers, for his Zubatto Syndicate. The current line-up includes musicians playing on traditional and non-traditional jazz instruments, some very well-known in and around town: keyboardist Tim Kennedy, bassist Tim Carey, drummer Eric Peters, trumpeter Jim Sisko, trombonist David Marriott Jr., alto saxophonist Jacob Zimmerman, tenor saxophonist Tobi Stone, baritone saxophonist/bass clarinetist Jim DeJoie, bassoonist Francine Peterson, clarinetist Beth Fleenor, and oboist/English hornist Janet Putnam.
Zubatto Syndicate returns November 10, 8 p.m., for the world premiere of 2Batto! at Seattle's Columbia City Theater. Admission is $10 at the door, $8 in advance.