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Saxophonist Byron Asher doubles his modern jazz fun

Basher
Basher
/
Clandestine Label Services
New Orleans saxophonist Byron Asher (second from right) with his quintet Basher.

As a kid, Byron Asher got the nickname "Basher" against his will. Now a professional musician, Asher wondered what a band called Basher would sound like. One thing is certain, it's a youthful good time.

Basher is just one of the many musical identities of the New Orleans-based saxophonist including a large ensemble, electronic duo, horn quartet and more. His new group's debut album Doubles comes out September 30, and early digital and video singles point to exciting music coming soon.

The quintet's doubled instrumentation on Doubles includes Asher and Aurora Nealand on saxophones, Brad Webb and Zach Rhea play drums (often facing each other and sharing a cymbal), and Daniel Meinecke handles two synthesizers. The Basher quintet call themselves a "free jazz party band" employing soulful grooves, New Orleans looseness and occasionally intense improvisation. The melodies are welcoming and catchy, providing a sturdy support for a few adventurous solo flights.

Basher cover for Doubles album
Harvey Stein
/
Clandestine Label Services
Cover for Basher's debut album Doubles

First single "Primetime A Go-Go" centers around a relaxed pulse of rhythm with synthesized bass and keyboard chords supporting the complimentary saxophones. Asher and Nealand blow solos simultaneously, provoking and reacting to each other's ideas.

The slow strut of "Claptrap Clapback" layers shimmering keys washing over a hip-hop beat with beautiful harmonizing saxophones. Meinecke gets the solo here, an off-kilter dance through digital sounds evoking droids from a galaxy far, far away.

First released as a live performance video in August, "Carnival 2019" increases the pace slightly and makes room for Mardi Gras Indian-inspired rhythms from drummers Webb and Rhea.

The cover of Basher's upcoming album Doubles is a photo of Mardi Gras revelers in matching party attire, informing prospective listeners of the adventurous fun within. The New Cool welcomes you on the journey.

The New Cool airs Fridays at 9 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Washington. LISTEN ON DEMAND

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Abe grew up in Western Washington, a 3rd generation Seattle/Tacoma kid. It was as a student at Pacific Lutheran University that Abe landed his first job at KNKX, editing and producing audio for news stories. It was a Christmas Day shift no one else wanted that gave Abe his first on-air experience which led to overnights, then Saturday afternoons, and started hosting Evening Jazz in 1998.
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