So the Vancouver International Jazz Festival rolled into town last week, just finished off last Saturday.  While I kind of screwed up on buying tickets, I did manage to snag one for two groups who were to play (or should I say, were to absolutely rock…or should I say, jazz?  OK not actually.) The Commodore as part of the festival’s “Urban Sounds” (or something like that) feature.  One of those groups was Bonobo.

In case you don’t know, Bonobo is the stage name used by Simon Green, a musician, producer, and DJ from Britain.  I’m not sure which title he deserves more, because the guy really can do it all.  He plays every single instrument on his studio tracks.  And when he comes across something he wants to incorporate into a song that isn’t an instrument, he samples it.  Like a champ.  And then there is the whole production scene, also done by him.  I figure he’s something like the electro-jazz version of Trent Reznor.  He does it all.  And he does it all so well.

Granted, he doesn’t contribute vocals to the songs.  But that’s where the sampling comes in.  Or, even better, brings in other artists to sing for him.  Featured artists include Bajka, featured on Days to Come, and Andreya Triana, featured on his latest album Black Sands, and who also is out touring and performing with him for his live sets.

Holy crap though, the live set.  Walking into the Commodore, I had set some high expectations.  But as it turns out, I set the bar too low, because I came out of there absolutely blown away.  There were some suspicions initially floating around that it might just be a DJ set, i.e. just him spinning the records, but fortunately they were only that.  The live act brings out a multitude of performers onto the stage, including (permanently, for the most part) a drummer, a bassist (both kind of obvious, with the latter being mostly played by Simon Green himself), a keyboardist, a guitarist, a DJ, and a singer.  Less permanent (but equally amazing when played) instruments included trumpet, alto sax, and flute, along with other changing portions of rhythm section.  The songs featuring flute were probably the most ridiculous though.  As with the studio albums, the flute playing was near transcendental.  Not to diss the alto sax and trumpet playing, but the flute…the flute was where it was at.

Live sets aside, the studio stuff is also tremendous.  Typical style for a song features a wide variety of sampling, heavy and often complicated bass lines.  Songs most often follow a linear progression, starting out relatively uncomplicated with the number of elements involved, but adds one element in at a time as the song progresses.

The opening act for Bonobo is also worthy of mention.  In what would be described as a blend of indie music and jazz, Brasstronaut, a 6 piece band (drums, keys/vocals, bass, guitar, electronic clarinet/sax, trumpet / rhythm section) from Vancouver.  I was particularly impressed with the electro clarinet player.  The things you can do with an electronic wind instrument.  The trumpet playing was also amazing.  Most notable was when the guy played the melody of one song on the trumpet and glockenspiel simultaneously.  That was the shiz.

Anyways, I’ve got a few tracks from Bonobo here.  Nothing from Brasstronaut, mainly because I’d rather have ppl buying their first LP release to support them, especially given that they’re from Vancouver (home town roots are winning me over here).  But trust me, the LP is worthwhile.  Only $7.92 on the iTunes store (8 songs might seem short for an LP, but daaaaaaaamn are they ever good).  But if you don’t take my word for it, go hit up Grooveshark or something, I’m sure it’s up there.

Nightlite (Demo Version) – Days to Come

The Plug (Live) – Live Sessions

Days To Come– Days to Come

Flutter – Dial “M” for Monkey