"Progressive Music and song that lives, grooves and sings deeply of the human condition"
The Jazz Urbane is a contemporary recording/performing collective which embraces and is infused with great R&B song writing, melodies, band grooves and style. Not really a “new movement”, just a new configuration of mindset/artistry.
It is a “collaborative of artists”, a music that crosses several bridges. This is music that has grown from urban places and thrives because of creative musicians who are tapped into the people, and into progressive, music- art that is urbane, hip and non-categorical.
The Jazz Urbane represents too, the rise of frustration among musicians with “non musical culture” dominating mainstream radio music, media.
Musically, the past lifeline of jazz progression has always been its reach to younger creative impulses. In that collaborative exchange comes “new voices”, an inspiring charged collective, movements of style, aesthetics, a sound, approach. These never severed themselves from the” Blues-Afro-collective-spiritual-pulse”, and never dislocated from common-folks’ “dance and move” in the world. Such progressive movements were always led by practicing musicians. Market promoters don’t determine nor define art, only artists say where the music is coming out of and where the music is, will be and the reasons where and why it should go.
Actually, 32 years old this year the Bill Banfield Band, that seminal group began in Boston in 1981and included young Boston performers Najee, Rachel Z, Billy Kilson, Carla Cook, and Regina Carter. Its B Magic Music ASCAP affiliation for the publishing company came in 1985. The company and band's first release was listed in Billboard magazine the same year. In 2013, Jazz Urbane was registered as a US patented trademark. So the concepts have been cemented.
Banfield attempted to put a band together in 2006, 07, with younger great bass phenom, Esperanza Spalding. Our idea was to create a band that could gig at a regular venue in Boston and draw. She Invited her drummer and a close friend, Christian Scott. By the end of that rehearsal, he realized how gifted she was and how different she conceptualized her grove concepts and harmonies. Banfield stated, " I had to find my own way back from the 70's, 80's, 90's groves into this new beat generation pulse. I struggled with my inability to catch "the new beats". So, I created a hybrid idea to cope with this. We created another band (George Russel Jr., Stan Strickland, Lenny Stallworth, Kenwood Dennard) with two worlds coming together with cross- generational/style sharing, gigged in Boston at a regular club, and invited Esperanza, Christian Scott, Alex Han, and later Grace Kelly. " The idea took off and the Monday Jam nights at Darryl's was listed in the New York Times ( 2008), as a noted jazz hot spot, and our concept was again cemented.
The Jazz Urbane more recently began as a creative approach to fusing these music(s) together with today's new music approaches, feels. We approached a younger creative producer, Rahn Dorsey, and asked to him to help with the beat/feel-production approach to make all this marketable. Joey Blake, a local vocal master, helped recruit a team of singers and produced vocal arrangements. We began recording the older songs. Then we put together an inter-generational band. The JazzUrbane is both an idea of stylistic, " era- criss crossing" and a symbol of collaboration.
This had been building though. An earlier recording with this idea was in 2004, Striking Balance(Innova) with Billy Childs, Patrice Rushen, Don Byron, Sounds of Blackness, Nelson Rangel, produced by Grammy award winning, Michael Powell (Anita Baker).
A second recording was released in 2009, with Stokley Williams of Mint Condition, titled, Spring Forward and featured in Jazziz magazine.
Banfield then approached mentor, Jazz pianist/producer great, George Duke, and asked if he would help mold the current Jazz Urbane artistically in the studio. George agreed to executive produce the recording. Banfield as well invited friends to " pour in"; Najee, Terri Lyne Carrington, Greg Osby, Christian Scott, Stokley Williams, Alex Han, Kevin Ross and Grace Kelly. We produced the songs as, sustainable songs, like the Beatles, Sting, Donny Hathaway.
These can be mounted in many ways, in many markets for all kinds of audiences that dig and appreciate great music traditions, singing and playing. So you make a band to do music in the world that gets its impulses from many sources, every five seconds. A challenge for sure.