Industrial Revelation – 2014 Genius Award Nominees in Music
By Charles Mudede with The Stranger
A drummer, a bassist, a trumpeter, and a keyboardist.
MAKES JAZZ THAT:
Breaks the boundaries of jazz.
DISCOVERED WHILE TOURING IDAHO:
That the white folks of that state really dig their music.
It is common for young jazz musicians of our day to incorporate hiphop into their work. Some do this successfully, but most badly. But always their reason for turning to and borrowing beats from hiphop is rotten: They feel jazz by itself is no longer relevant. This is not the music of our times. The current generation is all about Kanye West and not Miles Davis. Indeed, jazz is now considered America’s classical music—meaning, it’s music for institutions like the university and the museum.
That’s not how Industrial Revelation think of jazz. The group has four members—D’Vonne Lewis (drums), Evan Flory-Barnes (bass), Josh Rawlings (keyboards), and Ahamefule J. Oluo (trumpet). All are trained primarily as jazz musicians and play in a number of jazz bands and venues around town. However, IR’s 2013 album Oak Head makes it clear that when these four men make music together, they cannot be classified as a jazz band. IR have a sound that is not determined by one genre, but instead is overdetermined by multiple genres—hiphop, indie rock, punk, soul, and so on. But here is what makes IR truly unique and worthy of the status of Genius: Their mission as musicians is not to save jazz or to be relevant to younger audiences. Absent from their live shows and two albums is exactly that kind of desperation and scheming. What we hear instead are tunes composed and performed by four very talented musicians who are naturally, effortlessly, constantly inventive.
The band was formed in 2005 by Lewis, the drummer; before releasing their first album in 2010, IR saw themselves as essentially a live band. “It never occurred to me that we would ever do a recording,” says Rawlings, the keyboardist. “I always thought our music would just vanish in the air after a performance.” As IR have no defined borders for their music, they have no borders of where they play or whom they play for. “When Klan members hear us,” says Flory-Barnes, the bassist, “they have to take off their hoods, get on the floor, and forget about all that stuff.” As for Oluo, the band’s trumpeter, he finds great pleasure in watching older people at their shows “rocking out to a jam that’s really nothing but the Dead Kennedys, but they do not know it.”