The People’s Liberation Big Band Returns

One of the worst parts of record Bar closing was that The People’s Liberation Big Band would have to cease playing there once a month. The band’s ability to mix jazz standards with a warm playfulness was second to none. As technically skilled as musicians as they were at putting on a show, The People’s Liberation Big Band were great for jazz fanatics and lightweights alike. When the record Bar closed, I feared the worst. Would I ever witness Jeff Harshbarger making Wookie sounds as Shay Estes belted out a song again?

Fortunately, my fears were unfounded. This Sunday, The People’s Liberation Big Band makes their triumphant return. Now they’re playing The Ship. If you haven’t heard the band play or if you’ve never been to The Ship, this Sunday is the perfect chance to do both. If you have, then stop by anyway because you know it will be fun.

Whether the group is jazzing up pop songs (thinking of their tribute to Katy Perry), riffing on standards, or filling out The Nutcracker Suite, the band is sure to keep their music immediate and visceral–even at its most heady, there is still a bodily pull to their melodies. The People’s Liberation Big Band injects an intense energy into everything the play, which is part of why they are so fascinating to watch.

The other part comes from their skill as individual musicians and chemistry they have as group. Featuring some of the most wizardly jazz musicians of the area, the band makes jazz look easy. Between conversing solos, time changes, and jams, there’s a lot of complexity in the music they play. That said, The People’s Liberation Big Band doesn’t let complexity be the end all be all of their music.

As far as music theory and anything out of 4/4, I am a complete dunce. I don’t know how the band puts everything together. I do know that when they do, their music transcends the individual instruments to create something lush and all encompassing.

I know what you’re thinking: Sunday is so far away! How will I get my jazz fix until then. Don’t worry. Whether it’s classic jazz reissues you’re looking for or contemporary Midwestern jams, Mills Record Company has you covered. Two of my recent jazz arrivals have been Yusef Laatef‘s Psychicemotus and Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7′s three 7″. Yusef Laatef’s funky sax and flute songs have been standards for a reason. Equal parts heat and smoothness, Psychicemotus has a tension that is hard to recreate.

Likewise, Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7 melds jazz with soulful funk. With a Hammond backbone, the group dispenses their jazz with enough force to blow a speaker and enough subtle to satisfy even those uninitiated into the world of jazz.

So check out those two acts before catching The People’s Liberation Big Band return to the stage at The Ship. The Sunday concert starts at 8pm and is free. But there is limited seating so get there early.


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