Music in Los Angeles: The new jass
Check out the new jass movement—some of the best up-and-coming music in Los Angeles.
Looking for fresh music in Los Angeles? Open your ears to the new jass movement—youth barely past their teen years (save for the veteranos of the bunch, Hot Club LA) playing jass music from the teens, ‘20s and ‘30s and making it their own by infusing it with Balkan, bossa nova and Mexican rhythms. If you want to charm a date with something more than a romantic restaurant, catch the sexy, smart sounds at one of these bands’ shows. (You can also impress him or her with the knowledge that "jass" isn't a typo, but a common spelling of the word at the turn of the 20th century.)
Photograph: Brendan Pattengale
Lineup: Ericka Sancé: vocals; Carlos Vides: keyboard, synthesizer, cuíca; Ryan Daniel Moraga: percussion, trumpet; Samuel Aguirre: guitar; Aaron Folb: bass; Sam Kaufman-Skloff: drums.
Dreamy, ethereal, yet down to the earth in a way few can claim, Sister Rogers frontwoman Ericka Sancé sings sweet, susurrous samba that envelopes listeners in a tropical, jazzy caress.
Raised on her grandfather’s coffee farm at the base of a volcano in Guatamala, Sancé moved to Los Angeles at age 9 and started high school at age 12 in the performing arts magnet of Hollywood High School. Studying music, dance and acting, Sancé was taken with the American folk songbook, Fats Waller and Chet Baker until a meeting with guitarist Samuel Aguirre led her to appreciate the rhythms of bossa nova. The band grew organically from there, with the addition of players like Ryan Moraga on percussion and trumpet—whom Aguirre knew from Spanish church youth band—and Carlos Vide, who got tapped to play synthesizer and cuíca. All in their 20s, they feel they missed a chunk of popular music—whether due to the contraints of church or school—but they don’t mind.
”The aesthetic of any song from the past, whether it be jazz or bossa nova—it's very honest when you hear it. There are imperfections in the recordings, but it gets its point across, it's genuine," says Vides.
Moraga adds, “I like quality, things that are long-lasting. It feels handmade—not easily disposable. The idea that you can buy something and it can last your entire lifetime, that’s what this music is to me,” says Moraga.
Visually striking, with masses of wavy curls and a fashion sense that’s been profiled on style blogs, Sancé, too, is coming from a different place than most mainstream performers: “We want to play good music, to tell a story that can transform a person rather than be made up and puppeteered for the purpose of making money. That isn’t bad, but this is a planet with human beings who constantly need to be inspired.” Her life motto was imparted to her by her grandfather, who said "no matter what happens you have to do things with a humble heart and nurture earth."
Fueled by the discovery of musicians like Brazilian Rennaissance man Chico Buarque, Sancé says, “Music is like food for my heart and my soul. I just want something that really feeds me. I can’t wait for the future of our band and to see what else we’re going to discover.”
Neither can we. Look for Sister Rogers to be playing in support of their new self-titled EP, with all original compositions, throughout the first half of the year.
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