On Thursday, November 30th, a new supergroup dubbed J.E.D.I. (Jazz Electronic Dance Improvisation) made its debut at Philadelphia’s Ardmore Music Hall. The project is led by Aaron Johnston, drummer and founding member of Brazilian Girls and current member of David Byrne‘s touring band, and features a rotating cast of musical characters at each performance. For the project’s highly anticipated debut, Johnston tapped keyboardist/programmer Borahm Lee (Break Science/Pretty Lights Live Band), saxophonist Ryan Zoidis (Lettuce/Shady Horns), and bassist Nate Edgar (The Nth Power) for the collaborative project.
Clocking in around 100 minutes for their headlining set, the quartet played through four compositions that blended electronic-music elements with a diverse range of genres from jazz, afrobeat, dub, funk, and more to create a “live music abstraction,” taking listeners on a first-class intergalactic journey that needs to be heard by any true music head. The group explored artists such Eddie Henderson, Bob James‘ “Nautilus”, and Fela Kuti, while taking long detours into the far-out deepest reaches of the musical universe.
As Johnston told Live For Live Music during an interview last fall about J.E.D.I.,
J.E.D.I. is an idea I’ve been wanting to try for maybe a year or so. The concept is virtually a sonic change—still very much keeping the music live and interactive but creating more dynamics between the electronic and the acoustic world. I encourage all the musicians to bring their electronic “toys” without losing the beautiful tone and tambour they already have developed and perfected on their acoustic instrument. I also want to grab musicians whom I believe are advanced and are ready to push the envelope.
Because all of the musicians are such accomplished players, they’re naturally busy with various projects. Therefore, I expect to have different configurations over time. This is only the beginning. The plan is to build a consistent sound and overall experience for the audience and have a rotating cast of members that all are on the same playing field and want to expand the music together. The band could be a three-piece or it could be ten or more people on stage one day. And yes to expanding into the “jam” realm.” There are some truly incredible musicians in this scene.
Thanks to Bud Fulginiti, you can get a glimpse into the madness of J.E.D.I.’s debut performance below.
Don’t miss J.E.D.I. (Jazz Electronic Dance Improvisation) featuring Aaron Johnston (Brazilian Girls/David Byrne), Marc Brownstein (the Disco Biscuits), Ryan Zoidis (Lettuce), & special guests Eddie Roberts (The New Mastersounds), Eric “Benny” Bloom (Lettuce), and Shira Elias (Turkuaz) at The Maison in New Orleans on Sunday, April 29th, during Jazz Fest. For more info, click here; to purchase tickets, click here, and for our full guide to Jazz Fest late nights, click here.