If Broca’s Area (http://www.brocasareamusic.com/) is any indication of the Jackie McLean Institute’s musical philosophy, then “no boundaries” defines the Hartt School’s jazz-trained musicians. On December 8th Broca’s Area, a project of four McLean Institute progeny, treated a Bridge Street Live (http://www.41bridgestreet.com/) audience to a funk-infused repertoire including original compositions and covers of contemporary jazz and pop tunes.
With vocalist Mary Corso, drummer Steve Cusano, Mike Carabello at the keys and Josh Uguccioni on bass, the band revealed influences ranging from classic blues to hip-hop and an affinity for mixing new and old-school instruments. On the group’s original tunes, Corso’s electronic manipulation of her vocals juxtaposed with Carabello on a 1970s era electric keyboard, while Uguccioni plucked a shining new electric bass over Cusano’s deft drumming.
Interpretations of well-known recordings by Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill and Little Dragon revealed the group’s diverse musical tastes and adaptability. The band’s musicianship was on potent display in Corso’s vocal versatility and expansive range, Cusano’s talent for shifting style from loose to controlled to suit the music, Carabello’s rich melding of electric keys and synthesizer, and Uguccioni’s adept working of a melodic bass line. A palpable love of music-making and experimentation left no doubt that these musicians are at the beginning of careers that bear watching, no matter where the journey takes them.
For more about the musicians’ other projects, check out Cusano with Wise Old Moon (http://wiseoldmoonband.com/), one of the creative endeavors at Parkville Sounds (https://www.parkvillesounds.com/), and Corso’s vocal work with the Eric Krasno Band (http://www.erickrasno.com/). Uguccioni can be heard with the Alpha Quartet (http://www.alphaquartetmusic.com/), while Carabello plays with the Leo Catricala Quartet.
To hear more blues-infused contemporary music, don’t miss Hog River Brewing’s (http://www.hogriverbrewing.com/) Thursday night music series. Another Parkville Sounds project, “Twang Thursdays” is all original, from the beer to the music.