I’ve been waiting on this release for as long as it has been announced (or very nearly so), but, when it was finally released, it was impossible for me to listen to it attentively and, thus, prepare a short review before the month’s end. It is doubtless that I can say that Big Heart Machine would’ve made it in August’s monthly recommendations, but you’ll have to be content with this belated, overdue one.
Big Heart Machine is the eighteen-piece big band under the baton of Miho Hazama and the production of Darcy James Argue, another master of large ensemble jazz, playing compositions of Brian Krock. As opposed to Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, which seems to favour modern classical arrangements and composition methods as a main influence, Big Heart Machine leans towards progressive rock. The sounds and instruments used are, therefore, not only from the realm of jazz (as saxophone, vibraphone, and upright bass), but also of prog (synthesizer, electric guitar, and bass). There is, moreover, more modern influences and techniques not found in prog rock (but which should definitely be), like the use of non-dyadic time signatures, noticeable by the use of incomplete triplets or quintuplets, polytempic passages, and various other compositional and developmental techniques (of which you can read more here).
This results in not only a musically and mentally challenging listening experience, but one that is incredibly rewarding, engaging, and interesting as well! Big Heart Machine, the debut album of the group of the same name, is truly a gem, and a stellar example of New York’s best and most adventurous jazz. Do not miss out on it!