A Series of Happy Bandcamp Accidents

I committed a Bandcamp capital sin.

A couple of nights ago, I went to bed — iPad by my side — with the intent of finding some new 21st century jazz before I dozed off. I tend to do some of my best listening this way. I leafed through a couple of albums before I found what I was looking for. The compositions reminded me of what Bill Bruford did with his band in the late ’70s and early ’80s. I was fairly smitten.

Normally, I keep a notepad and pencil close by, so I can write down the names of albums I’ve enjoyed. But this time, I’d left the notepad in the living room. As I dozed off, it didn’t dawn on me to add this album to my already massive Wish List. I just figured I’d look into it the following morning. Typical of my life, it was two days before I could get back to Bandcamp. When I activated the app, the last album I played was gone. And I couldn’t remember the name of the artist, what the album cover looked like, or the title of a single song.


This morning, I was bound and determined to find that album. All I had to go on was it was either in the “nu-jazz” or “fusion” subsections of the Jazz category. The bad news is, I haven’t been able to track it down. On the plus side, I have stumbled across some AWESOME music during my search for the mystery album.

I’ve been introduced to an interesting trumpet player named John Blevins. His album, Matterhorn, will become part of my collection very soon, mostly on the strength of the opening track, called “Identity Theft.” The opening didn’t really grab me at first. But something told me to hang in there. That’s when the rest of the band kicked in, warping my brain by playing with alternating 5/4 and 6/8 time signatures.

The rest of the album is very creative, even if it does fall back on more traditional jazz forms. Still, it’s well worth the time to explore.

Then there’s Nathan Parker Smith, who leads an amazing big band. It’s a sound you don’t hear that much any more. The Bandcamp comments describe Smith’s music as “heavy metal jazz.” That’s fairly accurate. To me, it sounds like a combination of Frank Zappa and Lalo Schiffrin. Very textured, and highly intricate. It’s great stuff! One thing is certain: this ain’t your granddaddy’s big band!

I didn’t have to spend much time with Triforce 5ive to know I wanted them in my collection full-time. It wasn’t the album I was looking for, but damn! I’m glad we brushed past one another. The word “rude” comes to mind when I hear this music. But I mean that in the most positive way.

And then there’s SEN3, a marvelous band from the U.K. This is next generation fusion combine with just a touch of post-rock. It’s mellow and groovy, but it also generates that cool “head-bob” good jazz causes. I’m very interested to see where this band goes.This is a band I would love to jam with!

I’m always interested in a fellow guitarist. Joe Baer Magnant is quite the young talent. His band has an old-school feel, but there is clearly a new-school vibe present. It would be easy to overwhelm this music with sounds. But the band shows just enough restraint to allow the song to go where it needs to go, with minimal fuss. I’ll always admire a musical or band that respects the importance of leaving space.

There have been other discoveries, but I will leave them for another post. If you’re not on Bandcamp, you owe it to yourself to get there. The possibilities are endless!

I still haven’t found that album yet. But I’m not done looking.








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