TONY MASH bandleader WAYNE HORVITZ developed his chops and his unorthodox sensibilities playing on the '80s New York scene with such modern avant-garde jazz illuminaries as Bill Frisell and John Zorn. And like those composer/musicians, Horvitz is by no stretch of the imagination a purist. Constantly challenging the preconceived notions of the genre, he uses jazz as a mere touchstone, a jumping off point from which to explore everything from surf to funked up blues to Eastern European motifs. This has allowed Horvitz and the members of Zony Mash to parley their idiosyncratic sonic amalgam into a gob of crossover appeal -- making the quartet a hit with college hipsters and hepcat jazz aficionados alike. The band will play at Mootsy's on Friday.
The group (named after a song by the legendary New Orleans band, the Meters) is comprised of Horvitz on Hammond B-3 organ and an assortment of other keys, Timothy Young on guitar, Keith Lowe on Bass and Andy Roth on drums. What does the quartet sound like? That's pretty tough to nail. Start with the intricacies and improvisational spirit of traditional jazz, fuse it with a healthy dose of R & amp;B and run it all through a Louisiana swamp and you'd be about halfway to an accurate description of the Zony Mash sound.
Though he's a top notch composer, Horvitz is far more interested in getting you up to shake your tailfeather than attempting to wow you with his group's instrumental virtuosity. When Zony Mash isn't delivering a juiced-up version of a classic, it's cranking out eminently danceable original tunes full of groove and wickedly strange twists of melody, harmony and rhythm. Predictable, they are not.
The group's new disc, Upper Egypt, is in many ways the culmination of Horvitz' talents as a composer, musician and musical visionary. By combining funky musicianship with Horvitz' songwriting finesse and sharp rhythmic sense, Zony Mash continues to elude comparison and easy categorization.
Now based in Seattle, a continent away from the scene where he was nurtured, Horvitz is busier than ever -- the guy is, literally, everywhere. He is simply, one of the most sought-out composers in the field today, scoring and contributing incidental music for a number of feature films and television programs as well as dance and theater productions. He also produces projects for other artists as divergent as Fontella Bass, Eddie Palmieri, Bill Frisell, the World Saxophone Quartet and his wife, pianist, singer and composer, Robin Holcomb.
This will be a return engagement for Zony Mash. If you missed the show last time, well, you've got yourself one more chance to see Horvitz lead the group on a far out, soulful odyssey. Expect the unexpected.
Wayne Horvitz & amp; Zony Mash play at Mootsy's on Friday, Sept. 22, at 9 pm. Tickets: $5. Call: 838-1570.
Well, I'm off this weekend to the NORTH BY NORTHWEST MUSIC AND NEW MEDIA CONFERENCE in Portland. There, I'll be attending a few workshops, checking out the latest music-related online services, picking up free stuff, rubbing elbows with slimy industry types and catching a little live music. Make that more than a little. Yes, while the days are full of lectures and networking opportunities, the nights are bursting with song as more than 300 musical acts from around the Pacific Northwest (and elsewhere) perform in 20 of the city's best live venues.
I was hoping to hook up with a band from the Inland Empire for the trip, but as far as I can tell (from eyeing the band list I downloaded from the NXNW site, www.nxnw.com) there is no local representative scheduled to perform. Tsk. Did all you guys miss the deadline or what? Of course, if you did apply but were turned down, I'd like to know about it. Anyway, stay tuned for a full report next week. -- Mike Corrigan
Cool Acoustic Class
In the individualistic world of jazz, it is a rare occurrence to witness a band that actually plays and stays together. THE ACOUSTIC JAZZ QUARTET is such a unique entity, and it will play at the Shop tonight.
The Los Angeles-based group is composed of four highly experienced and seasoned musicians who intimately know their craft. Quite often, jazz ensembles play musical chairs with members, with one performer taking the spotlight and the other players changing with each album, tour or performance. The Acoustic Jazz Quartet is loyally dedicated to crafting beguiling, swinging music as a unit, expertly playing off one another and exploring their group dynamics as a whole.
The group's self-titled debut album, released last year on the renowned Naxos label, has been praised by the L.A. Times and the London Times. A combination of classic improvisation, straightforward jazz and mellow grooves, AJQ's music reflects the professionalism inherent in its musicians.
Bassist Zac Matthews, originally from Pullman, Wash., has made a name for himself in California by playing on recordings for Motown, Columbia and Sony, including several film and television tracks. He has studied with the likes of Wynton Marsalis, John Heard and James Moody. Agile guitarist Jamie Findlay has two solo albums to his credit and is probably one of the few jazz guitarists to have two "Starlicks" instructional videos. Currently, he teaches at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood. Hawaiian-born drummer Dean Koba has toured Europe with various jazz groups and worked with artists such as Jeff Clayton and Cecilia Coleman. Often compared to Stan Getz and Lester Young, tenor saxophonist David Sills contributes his varied solo and band leader experience, including two albums released with his own quartet that earned him an L.A. Times' "Best Bet."
With track histories such as these, it's not surprising that AJQ was drawn together to create refreshingly elegant contemporary jazz vibrant with velvety tone, precision instrumentation and ear-pleasing melodies. Another facet that sets them apart from the crowd is the band's use of the guitar as the main chording instrument and, contrary to the band's name, it's not always acoustic. Their performances of both standards and bright, original compositions have made them a popular draw in the Southern California modern jazz music scene since their formation in 1996. They hope to extend this varied presentation to the Inland Northwest -- and beyond. -- Tiina Teal
The Acoustic Jazz Quartet performs at The Shop on Thursday, Sept. 21, at 7 pm. Cover: $5. Call: 534-1647.