You crawl out from a steaming manhole in the center of an intersection. The rain stopped moments ago, but the gutters roar like rushing rivers. You sprint to the sidewalk, and into a nearby park to rest upon a bench. You wake to a saxophone trilling in the distance. You follow the faint notes out of the park, and down a dingy alley. The sound stops as you come to a dead end. The brick wall contorts into multiple individuals with instruments. They play . . .
Jazz is uncensored music straight from the heart. It typically consists of less rigid arrangements than other genres, allowing much more room for experimentation and improvisational elements. It’s the style with which many began their professional music careers (including yours truly), and many find their way back. Civil Circus is the newest full-length from singer and composer Diggs Duke, a man who surely loves his jazz.
Duke spreads his far-reaching, poignant musings across this record like a diary. His irresistibly soulful voice is backed by diverse mixtures of instrumentation, including live drums, saxophones, bass, piano, acoustic guitars, and tinges of electronic experimentalism ala Flying Lotus. Some tracks are brief glimpses of ingenious soloing, while others are more reminiscent of hip-hop, r&b, and harmony-laden gospel.
You won’t find a more honest portrayal of Duke, and that’s because he performs exactly what his heart exclaims throughout these ten songs, thus removing the censorship from his artistry. It gives the record a voyeuristic quality, and makes the listening experience akin to taking a peak inside a unique life. This is the goal of most artists, and Duke greatly succeeds here. If you’re seeking poignant, jazz-tinged soul, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)