Jonny Peiffer – drummer/composer
Zach Lange, Josh Gagnon – brass
Matt Langley, Eric Klaxton, Nick Mainella – reeds
Scott Kiefner – bass
Released November 5th, 2015
The symbiotic relationship between jazz musicians and visual artists has spawned some of the best-known art of the last century. The intersection of the aural and the visual is at the heart of Sojoy, an exultant septet built from the core of the Seacoast jazz, funk, and soul community. The project is the compositional outlet for drummer Jonny Peiffer, best known as the founder of the Afro-beat orchestra Shango and for his scores for a variety of theatrical productions from the Seacoast to New York City. Together with an amalgam of players from Shango, The Soggy Po’ Boys and Mother Superior and the Sliding Royales — Zach Lange, Claude Fried, Matt Langley, Eric Klaxton, Nick Mainella, and Scott Kiefner — they inspire and explore the visual arts with the In Ears ‘N’ Eyes artist collective during their own shows and on their vibrant first album.
Musically, Sojoy is an alluring junction where big-band rhythms meet hard-bop mid-century jazz, funky flourishes, and experimental contemporary compositions. Reminiscent of the strong melodic riffs and choruses of big bands, Peiffer employs a slower swing as a palette for his writing and improvisations. With the best horn section in the state, their bluesy, often whimsical solos recall the hard-bop era with memorable and thankfully reproducible lines. Yet “Sojoy” isn’t repetitive — they’re constantly forging unexpected ground while never staying grounded. On an album scored for reverie, every note is a new experiential direction, and they make it abundantly clear why jazz and the visual arts have always worked so well together.
On the opener, aptly named “Eros,” the horns swell in waves of anticipation under frisky solos on a journey that perhaps mimics a couple’s frantic first touch (and maybe even a small quarrel, or both, depending on where the jaunt takes them). On “Jimmy,” we get our first taste of the talents of bassist Kiefner who channels Mingus’ “So Long Eric” as he invites Lange for a ripping trumpet solo and Mainella for a smooth, even sultry, alto sax lead. On the hip-hop laden “Funkenwaltzen,” Langley’s renowned sax improvisations set the tune ablaze. “Starlings I,” a meditation on the bird’s fascinating migrations, builds to a crescendo before giving way to “Starlings II,” which at only three minutes long echoes the time constraints of 7-inch records. Here again, trumpeter Lange shines, channeling Lee Morgan in his brilliant embellishments. On their exceptional debut, Sojoy brings Peiffer’s visions to life and inspires our own, whether we paint them, dance them, or dream them.