Photo by Sam Zaret
BADBADNOTGOOD might be a music nerd's wet dream - if said nerd is equally enamored by traditional musicianship and the demented, sophomoric fantasies of Odd Future.
In just four months, the jazz trio has netted hundreds of thousands of YouTube views siphoning a suite of rap songs into riveting, masterful covers.
Drummer Alex Sowinski, pianist Matt Tavares and bassist Chester Hansen met in 2010 through Humber College's renowned jazz program. Like most young people they quickly bonded over music, shares Sowinski. A slew of jazz icons were on the list, including contemporary pianist and frequent R&B collaborator Robert Glasper, but also outré rap acts like MF Doom and "Odd Future, before they got big."
They decided to try Gucci Mane's plinking, saccharine Lemonade first. This was later immortalized in a video, The Odd Future Sessions: Part One, which reached Tyler, The Creator. "I Love Jazz, This Is Fucking Sick! Dave Brubeck Trio Swag," Tyler tweeted in April.
"Tyler's tweet was crazy, and there was a good response so we decided to keep going," says Sowinski. "We really wanted to push it because we were getting sick of what jazz is, but it never clicked that putting trap-style rap music to jazz is new territory." In mid-June, they uploaded a free six-song album to Bandcamp.
Wolf Gang pranksterism seeps into the group's slinky YouTubes, some filmed at a condo overlooking King and Bathurst. In most, Sowinski keeps time in a creepy pig-faced mask, "for fun and a dramatic effect." In the video covering A Tribe Called Quest's Electric Relaxation, he improvises on a half-chugged 40 oz bottle. These weird, youthful accents heighten the jazz trio's ability to filter a formal music education through a hyper cultural lens. It's all by ear, with no transcription involved.
A laidback rendition of Slum Village's Fall in Love was captured in the first take, says Sowinski who describes his band mates as "superb musicians." And it's kind of big to get nods from a Coltrane-bloodline virtuoso like Flying Lotus, after covering his song, Camel.
On Saturday, BADBADNOTGOOD play a debut show at the Red Light and will release another mixtape of covers plus an original improvisational jam. Featured songs will be a surprise, Sowinski says. Fingers crossed for some Waka Flocka Flame.
At Red Light (1185 Dundas Street West), Saturday (September 17), 8 pm. $5.