Post-millennial swing

By JIM MACNIE  |  August 4, 2010

NAME THREE BIG BANDS YOU GO BACK TO MOST OFTEN. Certainly the Walter Page/Jo Jones Basie Band. That Kansas City sound, the rough-and-tumble vibe they had was amazing. That's the wellspring. My first love is Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, especially the stuff from 1966 to 1970. That's the first big band I ever listened to. I really OD'd on those recordings as a teenager; they're really deep in my blood. Thad Jones comes out in my writing far more than anyone writes about or gives him credit for. And of course all the Ellington stuff is clearly timeless. For awhile there his post-Blanton stuff was getting short shrift. That doesn't really happen anymore. I think everyone is down with The Far East Suite and Such Sweet Thunder as being incredible records, period. He's a great tonic for anyone ever thinking they came up with a hip idea, because you can usually go back and see that Duke did almost exactly the same thing.

IS THERE AN INSTRUMENTAL ROCK BAND YOU FEEL SHARES AN AESTHETIC WITH SECRET SOCIETY? I don't know about sharing an aesthetic, but it's not a huge secret that I really love Tortoise and a lot of those post-rock bands. Mogwai — there's a lot of good stuff there; I have a love/hate relationship with Godspeed You! Black Emperor; I like a lot of what Explosions In the Sky do. It's been a while since the late '90s post-rock explosion. Along with the drum 'n' bass movement that was happening back then, for awhile it was like, "Oh my god all these cool instrumental groups are happening." These things go in cycles and now we're about 10 years gone from the heyday of all that, and I wonder if there might be another round coming again. When I'm done with the Brookmeyer thing, I have to write a song cycle and have to grapple with writing lyrics for the first time. That will definitely put me out of my comfort zone, so I have an ideological interest in instrumental music reaching people regardless of genre.

YOU'VE BEEN TWEETING ABOUT THE TOLL EXACTED BY THE RECENT HEAT WAVE WHILE YOU'VE BEEN FINALIZING THE BROOKMEYER TUNE. WILL WE FEEL THOSE TEMPERATURES IN THE MUSIC? I hope so. There's been a lot frustration and exhaustion going on because of it. I started writing it in Banff, Alberta in May when was snowing outside, and now it's [radically hot out]. So there's a whole variety of climate happening with this one.

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