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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

Photo by James Matthew Daniel

On the subject of the composer/arranger Darcy James Argue, Ben Ratliff of The New York Times explains: “what you bring home from his shows is a sense of energy and renewal, an intense will to do something contemporary with the whole idea of big-band music, blending the lessons of Charles Mingus and Steve Reich and TV on the Radio.”

As we noted in the first entry ever posted on this blog, Darcy and Secret Society, his 18-piece steampunk big band, are veterans of The Jazz Gallery; they’ve graced our stage at least a dozen times dating back to 2007, including a featured performance of new work written by Darcy as part of our 2008-2009 Large Ensemble Commissioning Series.

Immediately following the premiere of his Jazz Gallery commission, Darcy took Secret Society into the studio to record his debut album, Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam), which landed on over 100 Best-of-the-Year lists, earned the distinction of “Best Debut” in the 2009 Village Voice Jazz Critic’s Poll, and received a GRAMMY nomination for “Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album”. Read Darcy’s full bio here.

Earlier this year, Darcy and his co-conspirators returned to our stage, performing selections from Infernal Machines and excerpts from the score to Brooklyn Babylon. A “multimedia extravaganza” commissioned by and premiered at the 2011 BAM Next Wave FestivalBrooklyn Babylon is the result of over a year of collaboration between Darcy and graphic artist Danijel Zezelj. The piece was praised for its “visual splendor and musical majesty of the type not often experienced” (Ralph A. Miriello,Huffington Post), and for “originality, power, and beauty that left an audience slack-jawed” (David Krasnow, WNYC’sStudio 360). You can check out a video teaser here (courtesy of BAM), and read a Jazz Speaks guest post from Darcy here.

This Friday and Saturday, Darcy and Secret Society return to The Jazz Gallery. Get your tickets today (for Friday and/or Saturday).

Update: in case you needed further convincing, Darcy’s run has been selected as a Critics’ Pick in The New York Times and Time Out New York, and received a glowing profile in the New York Daily News.