. issue XXII : v .

by barathron

. artist : samson trinh and the upper east side big band .
. song : dear prudence .
. year : 2013 .
. label : n/a .
. grade : a plus .


There’s an old joke, (isn’t there always), single person, the opening act is listening to conversational riffs tracking to the four-piece headliners, before a show, who overture, “Must be nice not having to stretch payment around, but what kind of sound does this stick make?” The bass player says, (sometimes the lead singer, I heard it told better as this is one solid heavy metal flute, but like how IS the sound happening on this? & etc.) Another dialogues 100 dollars being a modest price point, “It will be for the fifty of us.” Or the entire joke of first trimester twentieth century modern American big band songbook, which is big bands crowded based on salary, playing first as personal recordings for radio station consumption and then eventually television soundtracks (Gleason would be more so than Goodman, who did the whole Carnegie Conservatory Route). All the other jokes I know are old setups between the bandleader and the emcee of the radio, not classic so much as setup and punchline, delivery quicksilver pun children.

Samson Trinh and the Upper East Side Big Band are not joking around. Trinh himself seems to do all the correct things as a bandleader — and especially as a leader with endless enthusiasm bursting layers of sound that not only seem commanded by him but are marching along as a tight band, a session band, a crew to be wrecked with. Having people follow you is difficult enough — establishing that trust and the follow-through — but keeping those relationships in a positive, constructive state for a decade in such a polygamous collective as a proper big band, with sections and sequential seating sourced, is the kind of awe-inspiring power that is harnessed by few human heads. These arrangements are huge production numbers with a personal touch but professional coverage. And I’m talking obvious archives of interpretation and communities of classic covers and soundtracked depth of brass and, you know, like good news. A while in the making (duh), the entire dynamic has stayed a constant, so says a ten-year anniversary. The website clearly has an administrator and the domain name doesn’t end in a free-service gated-community layout. But who’s counting? (CONNOR SEZS: We talked about Square One references already, dude. Also, I Just Adore Four is missing that announcer on the iTunes cuts, at least from three collections. What’s up with that? NOW DON’T START THAT AGAIN.)

Back to the sound, and I’m not talking the fidelity of furniture speakers and ampule watts stacks, I speak of the vibrations that come from a full public school classroom of human beings. The synapse of “Dear Prudence,” Lennon’s cooing coax to Mia Farrow’s frail fragile counterpart (is it possible) from the time at the Maharaja, where Johnny learned to not believe in Beatles, just to “believe in me,” which Adam Duritz would change to wanna be someone, to believe, to believe, to believe (yeah) talking to a Dylan creation that I hear again and again is the end of this song, where the plaintiff wail is backed by a crescendo of woodwinds, strings, percussion, brass, and voice. And it doesn’t have to beg for a playmate, because it has an entire neighborhood of cooperation and good vibes (lit-er-ally). These layers of noise all mingle and exist together, and with the ability of modern technology, are mixed and occur almost as in their natural environment, an overwhelming natural phenomena. Buddy Rich was a one time thing and that was a toddler memory of traumatic bipolar journey-a-ing, and Samson Trinh’s Upper East Side Big Band is a fantastic machine of humanity in the same regard.

The Beatles-tinged cuts of Trinh’s Abbey Road collection and the newest offering of “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” is fitting and fascinating. There isn’t anything you hear that sounds forced or even slightly outdated. Trinh’s band of merrymaker’s love game old songs brand new again, nurturing the classics and recreating welcome happy wash of these brassy, chic, metropolitan sensible sounds that wall of sound crumbles any listener into smitten status in less than two songs.

by Perkus Tooth