The Hub

The New York trio brings Dirty Jazz and musical weirdness to the Globe on Monday, September 27th

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 90s 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 isn't 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's the upstarts in The Hub that have been the most diligent foot-soldiers in the Dirty Jazz revolution in Europe.

Having toured Europe 14 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, Tim Dahl on Bass and new addition Paul-Alexandre on Saxophone.

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 Club Železná 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 not only by the fact that Noonan was able to hold down the complicated rhythms with only one hand but that he was also able to dispatch the lout without missing a beat.

The Hub's most recent album, Trucker, 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 US 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. 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 Ives'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 Ives's influence is clear - he's the man that 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'll hear elements of Eric Dolphy's Out to Lunch, Freddie Hubbard's Straight Life and Miles Davis's Nefertiti.

The fact that the band is playing again in Prague is a miracle of sorts as they barely survived a horrific car accident in December of 2003. The Hub was nearing the end of their three month tour with an all-night drive in Italy to their next show when they were hit from behind at high speed by a drunk driver. Noonan was driving and was the worst off, barely surviving and suffering two crushed legs, kidney failure and massive blood loss. He was at death's door for a week but pulled through, though the prognosis for a recovery was iffy at best.

Incredibly, Noonan was playing the drums again in a few months and played a comeback concert on June 22nd. The accident has only added to the growing folklore surrounding these musical trailblazers and their show at the Globe will be not only a celebration of some of the most progressive music around but also one of life overcoming massive obstacles.

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