The Hub and Dirty Jazz

Joined by Squall at Studio Rubin

The evolution of music is sometimes characterized by revolutions that change the course of specific genres and occasionally affect the course of society. Jazz, occupying the fringe of societal tastes, is not typically the form of music that when experiencing upheaval affects the mindsets of millions the way for example the Grunge revolution of the early nineties did. Nevertheless, when it comes to ideas of human expression and the development of complex musical ideas few other genres can touch jazz for its range of possibilities.

Because modern music is dominated by the avarice of the record industry producing the likes of Brittany Spears and endless silly boy-bands the average person is not necessarily hip to the revolution currently underway in jazz circles around New York, known as “Dirty Jazz”. Dirty Jazz is a uniquely post-modern bouillabaisse of disparate influences that at its core maintains the disciplines and ethos of jazz. This movement has been slowly gathering steam for some time now with notable contributions from John Zorn and his Naked City albums, Marc Ribot with Shrek and Sex Mob and their deconstructive covers of pop songs. Sex Mob played Akropolis a couple of year ago and Zorn has visited Prague on occasion but it is the upstarts in The Hub that have been the most diligent foot-soldiers in the Dirty Jazz revolution in Europe.

Having toured Europe thirteen times since their inception in 1995 the next stop in Prague for the Hub will mark their eighth visit. The trio is composed of Sean Noonan on drums, Dan Magay on Saxophone and Tim Dahl on Bass. There have been many memorable Prague shows but, typical of the Hub and its music, there have also been some bizarre moments. An archetypal show at the touristy Jazz Klub Zelezna would be marked by half of the shocked tourists walking out after the first few loud and dissonant notes while Prague’s real music fans, hungry for something new, scampered into to the newly vacated seats. Their tenth European tour got off to an ominous start when Noonan broke his hand on their manager’s face and was forced to play their entire tour one-handed. At one of those one-handed shows a drunken Norwegian tourist virtually assaulted Noonan mid-song with a request for “Happy Birthday”. Everyone there was floored by not only by the fact that Noonan was able to hold down the complicated rhythm’s with only one hand but he was also able to dispatch of the lout without missing a beat.

The Hub’s current three-month European tour is in support of their third album, “Trucker”. The album is their first to be distributed in conjunction with a music label, Innova Records, which is affiliated with the American National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the first to receive major distribution at large American music stores. Noonan described the album as a continued effort to “explore elements of jazz, punk, new wave, metal, funk and freeform improvisation”. All of the bands songs are penned by Dahl and Noonan--the frantic East Coasters—with Magay’s laid back Californian attitude and saxophone erudition playing yin to their yang. Dahl is particularly eccentric with his fondness for Japanese hardcore pornography and peculiar hairstyles. Many of Dahl’s compositions are inspired by encounters and observations of his Brooklyn neighbors, a house for the mentally challenged.

The band is dedicated to avant-garde composer Charles Ives, a reclusive insurance salesman who wrote some of the most progressive and brilliant music of the early 20th century. The Hub fuses Ive’s explorations of dissonance and aural counter-points with the energy of speed-metal acts like Melt Banana and Slayer. At times “Trucker” sounds like a satire with songs like “Tits” and “Canada” a sneering punk rock middle finger pointed at the heart of mainstream music. Again Ive’s influence is clear as he courted controversy by deconstructing popular and patriotic traditional American songs by blending one song over another and fusing it together with oddly syncopated dissonance. But the backbone of The Hub’s music is jazz and in their music you will hear elements of Eric Dolphy’s “Out to Lunch”, Freddie Hubbard’s “Straight Life” and Miles Davis’ “Nefertiti”.
The Hub will be bringing the Dirty Jazz cause and their particular brand of musical weirdness to Prague for a show this weekend at Mala Strana’s Studio Rubin (next to Jo’s Bar) supported by two local acts. Country Music, two-thirds of the legendary trio Squall, will bring their smartly retarded compositions, which they call “Hardcore Caberet”, accompanied by much plate-smashing, as the evening’s opening act. Kdyby Psi billed as “the masters of one chord fun”, of Alter Ego Records, will bring their frantic slop-rock to the stage after Country Music. Don’t miss the weird brilliance on hand at Studio Rubin Saturday night.

Jeremy Hurewitz

20:00 Saturday 15/11/2003
Studio Rubin-Malostranske Namesti

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