There is something ironic about labeling Brooklyn’s Digital Primitives
“nu-jazz.” It isn’t so much the fact that their simple, abstract brand of experimental music isn’t breathtakingly new. What is more obvious is that what Digital Primitives are doing is refreshingly primitive.
Digital Primitives extend the jazz arsenal beyond combinations of drums/bass/horns/keys to employ earthier folk and African instruments including the banjo, the mouth bow and the mbira. In doing so, the simplicity of each instrument is able to surface creating a traditional jazz conversation of sorts, but without all the flashiness of jazz jamming.
In fact, they tend to think of themselves as more of a democratic rock band,
as opposed to the way jazz bands are traditionally led. Perhaps this is why their sound comes off with more of a well-rounded and cohesive vibe than other sparse experimental acts.
When Cooper-Moore breaks out the mouth bow, it isn’t because he is trying to strike anew or because he is trying to impress you with some odd instrument you have never seen. It is because, somehow, no other instrument makes better sense in that environment. Not to mention, he straight up shreds that thing.
Under the magnifying glass of YouTube and MySpace clips, Digital Primitives hold their own and then some. Jazz, however, is always best felt and experienced live.
Digital Primitives can only deliver one thing — pure, abstract, instinctual, simple, and a little weird in the Sun Ra Arkestra kind of way (minus the outer space themes). But Digital Primitives are highly accessible, even if you’re like me and often think jazz is too smart for you.
When you check them out at the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center tonight Wednesday night, expect a little new and a little primalism.
Local U-C-based improvisational trio Ferrocene3 open the show at 8:30 p.m. Students get in for $6, but the general public should be appreciative to fork out $10.