22 May 2013
Welcome, comrades, to Secret Society’s new inter-web locus! We bid you enjoy the hospitality of our reconditioned residence!
This redesign has been a long time coming, as the original Secret Society website (b. September 29, 2005) had gotten rather long in the tooth. In point of fact, it had the distinct whiff of a TypePad blogging template circa 2005, slightly tweaked by someone with no design skills to speak of (i.e., yrstruly) — which is in fact exactly what it was. So this new incarnation of the Secret Society site is actually less “redesign” than just straight-up “design.”
Said design is courtesy of longtime friend of the Society, Travis Williams, who was also responsible for the Infernal Machines album art. I am also greatly indebted to Greenleaf Music’s Jim Tuerk, who oversaw all the finicky details of the design’s implementation and conversion to WordPress — the ubiquitous, open-source “content management system” that provides the tools for the unskilled user (again, yrstruly) to maintain and update the site.
[Did you know that WordPress version numbers are named after jazz musicians? This site is currently running WordPress 3.5, AKA “Elvin.”]
You’ll note that while the content has been re-arranged somewhat, we’ve managed to preserve (at least for now — see below… ) the entire 7-year archives of the original TypePad-based site, including — for good or for ill — the comments. This includes such vintage, back-in-the-day posts as Like I’m blowin’ on a sax, blowin’ my gats (AKA “The Top 4 Most Tolerable Rock Sax Solos of All Time”), I am fused just in case I blow out (listening to Jim McNeely’s East Coast Blow Out with Ethan Iverson), and Don’t listen to them suckas when they say you too irrational (notating and feeling so-called “irrational” rhythms).
These ones are keepers, but not everything is. The archives are in dire need of trimming and I’m eventually going to pare away the old stuff that’s not of lasting interest.
13 May 2013
BAMcafé Live, Brooklyn (FREE)
May 3, 2013 — Regattabar, Cambridge MA (tickets)
May 18, 2013 — Atlas Arts Center, Washington DC (tickets)
FREE PUBLIC WORKSHOP — May 2, 2013 at New England Conservatory’s Brown Hall, 1:00 PM (details)
“Monumentally ambitious… vital and absorbing.”
— Nate Chinen, New York Times
“Captures a region’s past and present while sounding ultimately timeless.”
— Chris Barton, LA Times
“* * * * * Rich textures, catchy and complex melodies, and lush harmonization abound.”— Mike Borella, Avant Music News
“* * * * Assuredly pionnering a new era of big band.” — Alain Brunet, La Presse
12 January 2013
I’m off to Copenhagen to spend a week working with the celebrated Danish Radio Big Band. Long one of the preeminent European radio bigbands, this is the ensemble of which Thad Jones assumed the helm when he relocated to Denmark in the late 1970′s. It’s since been led by Brookmeyer and McNeely, among notable others. Clearly it’s a massive honor for me to be afforded the opportunity to rehearse and perform with these great musicians, and I’m very much looking forward to our concert on Friday night:
Friday, 18 January 2013 – Darcy James Argue with the Danish Radio Big Band at the Koncerthuset Stuio 2 - 8:00 PM
In addition to material from Infernal Machines, Brooklyn Babylon, and as-yet unrecorded works, on Friday we’ll be premiering a hot-off-the-presses new piece comissioned by the DRBB.
In the wake of Dave Brubeck’s recent passing, I was thinking a lot about Dave’s writing, especially “The Duke,” which is famously (although incorrectly) thought to modulate through 12 keys during the first [A] section, all while featuring a jaunty, infectious melody on top. (What actually happens is that there are chord roots on all 12 chromatic tones.) I kind of wanted to try my hand at that, so I wrote a folksy, somewhat countrified waltz where the bass line of the first phrase lands on all 12 tones (albeit in a way that I hope does not draw undue attention attention to itself).
However, I often find that while I’m in the thick of the compositional woods, the music tends to assert its own ideas about where it wants to go, and this piece strayed pretty quickly from its early Brubeckanian origins into something that is actually more in the spirit of the great drummer Levon Helm, who also left us last year. (Believe me, I know full well how absurd that transition sounds… ) And so the piece became, inevitably, “Last Waltz for Levon.”1
30 November 2012
SECRET SOCIETY @ THE JAZZ GALLERY
290 Hudson St., New York NY
Sets at 9:00 PM & 10:30 PM (both nights)
Photo: Lindsay Beyerstein
The Jazz Gallery is one of the greatest places to hear music in the entire world. Anyone who’s ever seen a show there knows this. I’ve seen master improvisers like Henry Threadgill and Lee Konitz from the Gallery’s front row, sitting mere inches from their horns. I’ve been envelopped by the sound of large ensembles packed ino the tiny space — groups led by Sherisse Rogers, Pedro Giraudo, and other amazing composer-bandleaders. It’s a stage that encourages and nurtures new artists — when they invited us to perform there for the first time, back in 2007 they were the first”real” jazz venue to offer us a gig! Before we recorded our first album, Infernal Machines, we warmed up with a weekend at The Jazz Gallery that included the premiere of two works commissioned by their Large Ensemble Comissioning Series — “Obsidian Flow” and “Jacobin Club.” (What other jazz venue has a large ensemble comissioning series?)
Sadly, The Jazz Gallery have been forced to move out of their much-loved current location in mid-December. (Never fear, we fully expect them to rise again, phoenix-like, before too long — you can help them do it here.) Meanwhile, this weekend, we are celebrating the living history of the current location with two nights of music, including the two works comissioned by The Jazz Gallery, and a preview of our upcoming recording, Brooklyn Babylon. We hope you’ll join us for this final bigband blow-out at one of my all-time favorite venues.
01 November 2012
Vintage synths, wrecked by Sandy
New Amsterdam Records, home to Secret Society, our co-conspirator Sam Sadigursky, and many, many friends and kindred spirits on the New York music scene, has suffered a devastating loss. Their new headquarters, located at 98 Van Dyke Street in Red Hook, Brooklyn — just 300 feet from the waterfront — was innundated by the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy. This converted industrial location/biker hangout(!) was what you might call a fixer-upper, and renovating the space was genuine labor of love for the label’s co-founders and staff. It wasn’t just an office, it was to be a venue for rehearsals and performances and fundraisers and much else. To see all their efforts cruelly undone by the storm is especially hearbreaking.
From NewAm’s official announcement:
Despite the many hours we spent on Sunday preparing for the storm–stacking furniture on cinder-blocks and moving everything we could to higher ground–our space was flooded with almost four feet of polluted sea water. As a result, about 70% of our catalog of CDs has been destroyed–CDs we hold on behalf of our artists (we do not own them). Literally ALL of our financial records were destroyed, including our back-up hard-drive. Sewage, gas, spilled paint thinner, and bleach all blended with seawater, creating a toxic mess. A mess that is sure to corrode our newly installed drywall, kitchen cabinets, and office furniture. Even the basics like doors and plumbing are compromised and will need to be replaced. Musical equipment, amps, and priceless vintage synthesizers were also destroyed, along with countless personal items, clothing, two couches, records, and other furniture. We will need to move swiftly to acquire industrial dehumidifiers and hire professional mold-cleaners to help us combat the high risk of toxic mold. We have yet to assess the damage to our donated Steinway grand piano which we wrapped with a plastic tarp prior to the storm; the water mark from the flood was drawn inches from the piano’s lid.
Their efforts to obtain flood insurance for their space were rebuffed (turns out insurers are reluctant to issue policies to business located on the Red Hook waterfront for some reason… ). The cost and scope of the cleanup is daunting.
New Amsterdam believed in Secret Society and supported us long before anyone outside of a very small circle had the slightest idea who we were or what we were about. Please support them in their time of need.