Denver based Big Brooklyn begs the question “what is jazz?” with their new album Everyone Everywhere, in which every track dips a toe into different sub-genres underneath the jazz music umbrella.
Big Brooklyn has enough “straight ahead” stuff that you would expect on an ordinary jazz album, like the swing track “Send It To Me” or the ballad “A Little Faded,” and it explores more traditional subgenres such as bossa nova with “Choro Futuro I.” But they also share some funky fusion you might hear from Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters era, and some John Scofield influences on “Crazy Owl.”
They have a pretty standard instrumental jazz combo set up, with acoustic bass, guitar, drums, and a sax player, but their incorporation of Melody Dornfeld on clarinet (and bass clarinet) lends a quirkier sound for a group that doesn’t focus on gypsy jazz or 1920’s repertoire.
The clarinet gives many of the tracks an eastern European flavor, which makes sense since Dornfeld herself tips a hat to klezmer music with fast runs and bebop licks. Tracks like “Every Eye” and “Hollow” feature prominent klezmer-styled harmony and riffs. Dornfeld finds ways to sneak in some klezmer even in other tracks, such as the opener, “Brought Near,” which mixes a rock beat with the eastern european melodies.
Even with the heavy influence of the klezmer sound, it’s hard to put a finger on what kind of music Big Brooklyn makes, aside from loosely calling it “jazz” because of the group’s improvisational nature. But most jazz musicians also have a hard time concretely defining what “jazz” music really is: Big Brooklyn’s Everyone Everywhere is another expression of that search.