Big Heart Machine, “Dipsea Steps” from Big Heart Machine (2018): Something Else! premiere

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Darcy James Argue — along with Maria Schneider — are part of a very rare breed of big band leaders actually thriving in the twenty-first century. It takes a lot of creativity, imagination and, frankly, gumption to do that and get both noticed and appreciated for that. More than that, noticed and appreciated enough to even be able to keep this expensive enterprise going. And now, we have a twentysomething bidding to join those lofty ranks.

Brian Krock, a young composer, saxophonist and bandleader, was inspired by Argue to start his own ginormous, eighteen piece ensemble, which he christened Big Heart Machine and installed Miho Hazama as its conductor. As the ultimate validation that he’s on the right track with his grand idea, he was able to enlist Argue himself to produce the band’s self-titled debut.

Krock is just getting started, but it’s already a long ways from his musical beginnings as a heavy metal guitar shredder and admirer of prog rock. Actually, perhaps not such a long ways when you listen to this album and hear elements of those two music styles embedded all over it. Krock even put some metal guitar in it, played by Olli Hervonen.

“Dipsea Steps” is the fourth leg of the five-part “Tamalpais” suite. In the stream launching above, you hear the drums (Josh Bailey) first, and it’s not Gene Krupa’s drums or the monster swing coming from a Count Basie orchestra. It’s computer-like, an odd way to describe hand made percussion, but that move illuminates how committed Krock is to making something genuinely fresh out of an old band format. Upon that foundation, the brass and reeds ascend and recede in cinematic fashion as vibraphonist Yuhan Su runs around free. And then quite unexpectedly, those power chords from Hervonen come in and mingle with the horns. That’s only half of the song, listen to catch the rest of Krock’s plot, it’s bursting with left field ideas.

Big Heart Machine goes on sale August 24, 2018 courtesy of Outside In Music.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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