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Kneebody: Virtuosic electro-jazz for the indie rock generation.

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Thursday April 10, 2014

From Willamette Week

Kneebody: Wednesday, April 9
Virtuosic electro-jazz for the indie rock generation.

By Brett Campbell

Since a diverse group of teenage CalArts and Eastman School of Music students coalesced as Kneebody in Los Angeles in 2001, the instrumental ensemble has built the kind of growing young audience most jazzers would envy. The way it incorporates rock and pop influences into its singular, organic sound certainly helps with that.

WW spoke to saxophonist Ben Wendel about the challenges of expanding outside the jazz box, playing rock clubs and how he’d define Kneebody’s undefinable sound.

WW: Your new fourth album is on what’s been traditionally a jazz label, Concord. Yet in Portland, you play indie-rock venues. Why?

Ben Wendel: The inspiration for Kneebody’s sound came from the fact that we actually started in a rock venue in L.A., the Temple Bar. We all feel more comfortable in indie-rock clubs. There’s a certain sound to amplified music—driving the tube amp or guitar amp to get a certain sound, fuzz or distortion on the bass and all kinds of effects pedals on the horns—and to hear those clearly in a democratic way across the band, you need a large sound system to experience that. The music is very rhythmic and groove-based, and playing in rooms on the drier side allows us to write music like that.

To read the full interview click here