By Dylan Deprey
Though I’m no jazz expert, when Jay Anderson, VoodooHoney Records owner, saxophone extraordinaire and all-around dope guy, hits you up to check out his jazz trio’s debut album… you give it a listen.
In between checking Facebook, e-mails and the local music blogs, if one searches the word Stomata, several scientific websites pop up. So, instead of reading through crazy amounts of scientific mumbo jumbo, I hopped on Wikipedia to find the real definition. According to every teacher’s most hated website, Stomata, in short, is a group of cells in plants that assist with photosynthesis and the exchange of Carbon Dioxide to Oxygen.
Now, you’re probably wondering, “What the hell does this have anything to do with a local jazz album?”
Well, just as the stoma facilitates the intake of CO2 and release of Oxygen into the world, Anderson and Stomata’s smooth, yet brash take on Jazz is a breath of fresh air to Milwaukee’s ever-growing music scene.
Stomata has played countless shows around Milwaukee, and “Non- Standard/Standards,” opens the doors to a new jazz era in Milwaukee that few might know of now, but will soon remember. The trio complements each other well as Jay Anderson slays on the sax, Dave Schoepke misses no beat on the drums and John Simmons subtle slaps on the bass keep the mood moving.
The album begins like a Bond film. Anderson’s sax explodes over a banging bassline as shooting rim shots set the tempo on a sprint in an exciting race that spans 11 minutes, in “A Night in Tunisia.” The song also receives a classic DJ Madhatter remix that links two stories, as a night in Tunisia collides with news clips from the unrest in Sherman Park following the fatal police shooting of 23-year-old Sylville Smith. The piece almost acts as a score that could have been played through every Milwaukeeans television as they witnessed the three day riots a little over a year ago.
Stomata introduces the audience to their take on a modern sound with an old-school feel. In songs like “Confirmation,” the breezy bass and easy riding sax and percussion transport the listener to a Speakeasy. It’s one hidden in the basement in a downtown Milwaukee apartment where dancing with your missus is a must and one must always have a buzz.
On other songs like, “Lush Life” and “Lush Life (Take 2),” Stomata creates a similar ambiance between the two takes, yet both are unique on their own. They first set a slow pace, but one follows until a peak, as the other rides the wave until it crashes quickly to finish the song.
Towards the end of the album, the infusion furthers and creates something that even a person unversed in the genre, like myself, can experience and enjoy.
Did I think Stomata’s album was going to be good? Yes. But, did I think I was going to like it? I didn’t know because jazz was not my forte. But, whether you experienced jazz naturally through relatives, or even through a half-assed jazz cd, that was bought at 4am, and played in your middle school study hall, it was an enjoyable album in its entirety. From the highs to the lows, Stomata transports listener audibly through different emotions and even stories that can be felt throughout the entire album.
Visit https://www.voodoohoneyrecords.com/ to check out Stomata’s, “Non- Standard/Standards.”