Photos | A night of firsts with Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society and Fight the Big Bull

Darcy James Argue conducts his Secret Society.

by Giovanni Russonello
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As we’ve already emphasized, 2010 was a great year for jazz in D.C. There’s no reason that energy needs to stop building in the new year; things always move forward, and years are make-believe. Nowhere has it been more apparent that 2010’s positivity is folding seamlessly into 2011 than at Subterranean A last night.

This was a hit of awe-inspiring music by two groundbreaking large ensembles – and it was a night of firsts. It was the first time that the Grammy-nominated Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society has performed in D.C., and also the first District gig organized by DIY jazz promoters Search & Restore. Hey, it was even Search & Restore’s first time venturing outside the clutches of Michael Bloomberg. And last night’s show – which found Secret Society double-billing with Richmond, Va. favorites Fight the Big Bull – was the first jazz offering at Subterranean A, a burgeoning venue on D.C.’s underground music scene.

In that way, the concert provided further legitimacy to the idea that a real jazz loft scene can grow and thrive in D.C. Just this week, CapitalBop’s own Luke Stewart spoke to about the great things happening at the Red Door (site of CapitalBop’s inaugural D.C. Jazz Loft last month). This past Wednesday, Stewart put on yet another well-received show there, hosting David Ornette Cherry.

And what worthy music there was at Subterranean A last night. The eight-piece Fight the Big Bull wailed its way through incandescent, mad-woodsmanly blues-meets-country-meets-jazz. This hardly felt like an opening act, but when Secret Society came on, it brought the room to a hush. From the first moment of the 18-piece orchestra’s first song, “Zeno,” the place was captivated by the band’s technical and machinating (but, at times, astonishingly lush) mini-suites. Here are a few photos from the event.

You see, the rules are awfully simple at Subterranean A: No cigarettes inside, and no being a dick.

Fight the Big Bull saxophonist John Lilley and bandleader and guitarist Matthew White.

An audience member watches Lilley get down on saxophone.

Reggie Pace takes a blood-curdling, heart-rending solo on trombone.

Darcy James Argue's Secret Society guitarist Sebastian Noelle, top left, plays a looped pattern at the beginning of "Redeye."

On "Jacobin Club," Josh Sinton's unbridled saxophone solo sent him swaggering through the crowd, then culminated with him wailing from atop a chair.

Secret Society's brass section performs.

The audience gives Secret Society a hearty round of applause.

photos by Giovanni Russonello/CapitalBop



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