Bart Marantz Plays Bach Selmer Trumpets and Flugelhorns exclusively.
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Listen to Luke's National Public Radio Interview: Part 1
| Part 2
"Among the best young American jazz pianists"
Partial Press Release
The time-tested hand game known as Ro Sham Beau is hard to beat as a quick and
efficient method for settling disputes. But the Boston band Ro Sham Beaux seems
more likely to start arguments than to end them. Is this a jazzy indie rock combo,
a slinky funk quartet with a jones for improvisation, or a rockin' jazz ensemble
with a knack for sophisticated hooks? The answer is yes.
A fiercely grooving foursome hailing from New England Conservatory, RSB features
Luke Marantz on piano and keyboard, bassist Oliver Watkinson, drummer Jacob Cole,
and saxophonist Zac Shaiman. The collective quartet announces its arrival on
March 13, 2012 with the release of a combustible self-titled album on Red Piano
Records that blows apart binary musical categories.
While fluent in the post-bop canon, the band is equally influenced by indie rock
pacesetters like Deerhoof, Bork, and The Dirty Projectors. Artfully employing
electronic effects and looping in real time, RSB has honed a compelling book of
original tunes that embrace pop's concision, indie rock's textural resourcefulness
and jazz's improvisational imperative. Rather than serving as launching pads for
extended solos, RSB tunes are vehicles for jaw-dropping group interplay and
quicksilver shifts in tempo, texture and momentum. Above all, RSB infuses their
music with a sense of unabashed joy, as if exalting in each other's company.
"We thrive in the spaces between order and chaos," Marantz says. "We're playing
acoustic instruments, but electrified, including saxophone with effects and
pedals, which is a sound you don't hear very much. We improvise the forms, which
means we've developed a whole language among ourselves out of necessity. Zac
brings in new tunes every week and the old tunes keep expanding. We have a whole
lexicon of places we can go."
Part of what makes RSB such an exciting ensemble is the sense that they're still
mapping the sonic territory into which they've wandered. Though the quartet is a
collective, there's no mistaking Shaiman's saxophone as the lead voice, much like
a singer in a rock band. A highly expressive player with a bright, clear tone
(until he alters it with one of his trusty foot pedals), he often employs effects
in subtle and crafty ways.
"I really feel like the record was really important in figuring all that stuff
out,” Shaiman says. We booked two 12-hour days in a rock studio, and they had
tons of stuff to play with. We figured out a lot of stuff in the studio, and we
ended up with more music than we could ever use."
While Ro Sham Beaux has developed a sound unlike any other band on the scene,
the group traces its origins to a most familiar setting. The four musicians first
played together at a jam session at NEC in the fall of 2009. With potent
chemistry as friends and musicians, the foursome started jamming regularly,
with original tunes gradually replacing standards.
"As we brought in our own tunes and started writing for the quartet, we got
further and further from jazz quartet model,” Marantz says. “We're all really
into rock, and most of us have been in rock bands, so we were just following
our other influences."
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