For Hardcoretet, jazz music gets reinvented every day, thus the best of the best are the contemporary players who manage to successfully navigate the thrill of the times. Thought-provoking, determined and fashionably astute, this Seattle-based collective of alternative musicians believes even Miles Davis would take issue with those who still find his art-form merely a sentiment of historical construct. Alas, it’s so come so much further, and they have the grooves to prove it.
“I think people still talking about Miles Davis would be his biggest complaint,” Hardcoretet drummer Tarik Abouzied tells BTR when asked how the legendary trumpeter might criticize the culture if he were still around. “More generally, the fact that popular music and culture has sort of stagnated over the last couple of decades. There is so much great new music out there bubbling under a wet blanket of popular music from the last thirty years, or even older in jazz. Take a look at the Top Jazz Albums on iTunes: #2 Kind of Blue (1959), #3 Best of Louis Armstrong (died in 1971), #6 Best of John Coltrane (died in 1967). The Top Jazz Songs make that point even stronger. The highest grossing movies of this year include the 7th Batman movie, the 3rd Iron Man movie, the 4th Spiderman movie, the 3rd Madagascar movie, the 4th Ice Age movie, the 3rd Men in Black movie, and the 7th Alien movie. Miles changed his sound and style so many times in his career, and I think he would want us all to move on.”
Abouzied’s cohort, saxophonist Art Brown, shares a side thought, “Today, music is often treated like an afterthought, something in the background of everyone’s lives, not something that you pay for, focus on, and experience, whether it’s on a recording or in a live performance. I think Miles would have a serious problem with that.”
In so many ways, Hardcoretet aims to move past such a pseudo-dormant zeitgeist with fresh, yet retrospective ingenuity. Their group mindset is as passionate as it is realistic; their drawing board as creative as it is unrefined. And because of their originality, the quartet has built an ecliptic fan base of friends, family, and artistic acquaintances that continues to expand as their tune lingers onwards.
To be ‘hard core’ as a jazz ensemble, says Abouzied and Brown, the trick is flawless execution, dynamic storylines, and raw energy. Such a correlation of forces allows bands like Hardcoretet to develop an audience who appreciates the qualities of the genre, and follows the tides of their riffs and roams. They work hard, and play – literally – harder, and they keep going till not a beat is out of place.
“Compared to, say, rock or hip-hop, jazz isn’t thriving at all if you consider record sales, radio play, or broad appeal,” says Abouzied. “On the other hand jazz is still being pushed forward as an art-form and being performed and received with tons of energy by incredible musicians and audiences. With most jazz musicians coming out of college programs, you can find great jazz in big cities and college towns, mostly being performed in smaller venues. I can speak to this reality in Seattle and I’m sure it’s the same all over the world.”
Accordingly, Hardcoretet is killing it in the scene – niche as it may be. The band will release their album, Do It Live, this fall with the Seattle-based jazz label Table & Chairs, and subsequently has a slate of shows ready to score along the West Coast. Both Brown and Abouzied recommend perusing their gigs with a whiskey in hand and a mindset for the imaginative. While improvisation factors into the mix, their songs are simultaneously melded in masterful compositions, a fusion-like style at its most organic. Along those lines, their catalog could best be described as a blend of jazz standards, ‘50-60s-like swing music and the tinge of ‘90s American rock.
And if they could get anyone to remix their jams? The hit list includes Flying Lotus, Kaidi Tatham, Cinematic Orchestra, Bibio, or Bugge Wesseltoft, and the next season of American Idol.
“We don’t really worry about betraying the genre or going against the history of the music,” says Brown. “To us, jazz is about moving forward and incorporating whatever modern-day sounds you are interested in, so even though we’ve all listened to and learned from music of the past, especially jazz, it’s one part of many that influence us.”
Listen to The Jazz Hole with DJ Linus this Thursday on BTR for a special live set with Hardcoretet. Also check them out online at hardcoretetmusic.com!
Follow BTR Writer Courtney Garcia on Twitter!