The 2019 TD Discovery Series Special Projects presentations kick off this Thursday, February 7 with Moodset at Yauca's Lounge and, in many ways, it's a great example of what the Special Projects are all about.
Jacqueline Teh, Moodset's vocalist, describes their project as follows: "This project is a combination of a showcase and a workshop...it will encapsulate our usual process of composing and arranging music and share it with a live audience. Partially inspired by Esperanza Spalding’s recent live-stream video of the creation of her newest album, we want to offer a behind-the-scenes view of the creative process and inner workings that occur as the music is being created...We have thus decided to create this writing project that will feature us composing and arranging music in real-time before a live audience. Throughout the process, we will accept questions and suggestions from the audience...so that everyone attending the event can feel involved."
Now let me clear. I am not a fan of forced audience participation. I'm the buzz-kill at the back of the room with hands firmly in pockets when being told from the stage to snap or clap along with the music. But what Moodset is offering here is completely different - this is an invitation to participate in the creation of the music, to learn about the process, and then hear, at the end of the process, the results in real time. The idea of inviting the public into the creative process resonated with the Special Projects panel: by offering a rare, behind-the-scenes look at how music goes from concept to completion, it may appeal to concert-goers in a new way; the panel also liked the inherent risk factor: it may all go well, or the results may not come to full fruition - so the musicians and the audience members get to experience the end results, whatever they are, at the same time.
Based on their application, the concept has been carefully thought through, and we're excited to see it unfold. What is not in question is the quality of the music. These are younger musicians exploring the intersection of jazz with funk, R&B and soul, and they sound fantastic. The tracks submitted with the application were not exactly polished - all recorded live in performance - but the groove established was clear. Strong playing, tasty soloing, well-crafted improvised lines, nice blend between the instruments and the vocals...a lot of musicality on display. So I think we'll be in good hands as they delve into some uncharted territory.
And uncharted territory is what we hope to encourage with the Special Projects. We're looking for something that feels like more than "just another gig", something that gives us something to talk about from a publicity standpoint. With their "Live Writing Project", Moodset has certainly achieved these goals, as have the rest of the Special Projects - each of the Projects will be unique to the jazz calendar this year.
Yauca's Lounge is an intimate space, so I encourage you to arrive early on Thursday night to guarantee you've got a spot for what is sure to be a unique night of music creation and performance. And who knows - maybe you'll even end up with a composing credit! Festivities begin at 9 pm; complete details are available here.