One of the most fascinating things about music as an artform is its ability to touch and inspire the soul of so many that it can unite a community around it. It is the hearth of a community, so to speak, giving hope and reflection in a society cluttered with noise and information overload.
Just like the Brooklyn rock explosion that occurred several years ago, jazz in this legendary corner of NYC has been undergoing a renaissance. With Manhattan being overly expensive these days and artists finding it harder to find gigs there, Brooklyn has come to play a vital role in the city’s larger jazz culture. Largely rooted in the DIY ethic, inspired Brooklyn jazz enthusiasts have created their own artistic infrastructure, including a growing network of low-rent spaces and curated series in musicians’ homes.
While bringing the music back to its roots in black communities is necessary, both for the music’s survival and for the community’s resurrection, this current jazz dynamic involves a whole array of subgenres, including jazz fusion, where the bridge between cultures is so beautifully apparent. We can observe independent artists with a shared commitment to creativity and community cooperating with one another to encourage greater appreciation of original music emerging from Brooklyn.
Jazz-core collective based A Tree Grows has been exemplary on both counts. Comprised of some of the most exciting creative musicians on the New York scene: Russell and Rashaan Carter, siblings from Washington, DC, have teamed up with keyboardist and composer Emanuel Ruffler from Munich, Germany. Together they create a unique stew of jazz, electronica, soul afrobeat, rock, and experimental sounds, over which Duane Eubanks and Tivon Penicott stretch a layer of raw, emotional jazz lines.
Not afraid to defy expectations of style, instrumentation and expression, the unique style of eachmember of A Tree Grows makes for a contribution that is striking, balanced and jives well with the other musicians. When asked if New York has somehow shaped A Tree Grows’ sound, Emanuel Ruffler answered “To me this band could only happen in New York. If you live in New York you want to be surprised, that’s a New Yorker’s favorite state of mind. New restaurant, new people, new idea, new neighborhood, whatever. So when we have a new project we want to surprise ourselves, and then amplify the surprise factor for the audience.”
About how the band strikes such a fine equilibrium between that which sounds improvised and that which sounds meticulously thought out and perfected, it remains a mystery. “The studio is this incubator for creative energy and it’s nice to absorb that. The space plays an important role in a concert and one that houses and spawns creative work is always welcome”, says bassist Rashaan Carter.
A Tree Grows is one of many dynamic music-makers in Brooklyn creating an atmosphere that nurtures creativity through their jazz-laced creations and interconnectivity with their peers, solidifying music’s role in community building and social transformation, as well as positively defying jazz’s current trajectory, which has become overly commercialized.In early 2017, A Tree Grows will release their eponymous debut album through Rufftone Records, but for now we present you both; ‘Wau Wau Water’ (single) and ‘Tragic’ (live) from this forthcoming LP. Catch A Tree Grows live at the Nublu Club in NYC’s East Village (62 Avenue C between 4/5th Street) on on December 9th.