The two-sax quintet SmackTalk is well trained for jazz, but their music is more than that. Much more.
Performing live in the KNKX studios, the band’s energy, and a good deal of their sound was reminiscent of the indie rock that filled nightclubs in Seattle 20 years ago, filtered through cool modern jazz swagger.
SmackTalk blends funky grooves with complex but accessible harmonizing horns, developed over changes common in classic rock-jazz fusion of the 70s. It’s party music for smart people.
Formed by saxophonists Sidney Hauser and Natalie Berry a couple years back with Kelsey Mines on electric bass, the quintet has solidified in the last year with Luca Cartner on drums and Ori Levari playing electric keys. (The difficulty of herding young jazz cats was evident in this performance, as Daniel Salka sat in on keys.)
Emma Horton was a special guest, adding tender but soulful vocals to SmackTalk’s new song “Beams”. More vocals may or may not be in their plans, but it is a more direct example of the band’s indie rock sensibility.
The first impression I get with SmackTalk is always how talented the musicians are. Still, it’s cool to see a young band of this quality feature a majority of female musicians.
The 20-somethings who comprise SmackTalk and much of their audience are (hopefully) as indifferent to the gender of their favorite bands as they are to the constraints of musical genres. As a society, it’s clear we have some work to do. As music fans, we’re on our way with the help of this band.
Catch the good word from SmackTalk in a club or a house party near you soon, and keep your ears open for an upcoming recording from the band. Hauser told our KNKX audience and her band at the same time, the new EP will be called Serving It Hot. It promises to be a very cool time.