Jaggery Takes Us to the Crux of the Matter
by Julie Stoller
It’s a last-gasp attempt to be timely, to be sure, but I feel I must mark the occasion. A favorite Boston band — no, let’s call them a musical art ensemble — by the name of Jaggery is officially releasing a new album today. It’s called Crux. This evening, they’ll be hosting their record release party at ONCE Ballroom at Cuisine en Locale, with what will most certainly be a stunning performance by this wonderful group of musicians. Because, truth be told, I have yet to see a performance by them that isn’t stunning. And that includes the one at the dearly departed Church, which was done in darkness with people shining their smartphones onto the stage when the club suddenly lost power.
I’m listening to Crux as I write this. Beginning with Singer Mali’s ‘War Cry,’ like an eagle warning the planet of imminent catastrophe, the album embarks on a mysterious journey through jungles and tropical rain forests, deserts and savannas, open tundra and grasslands. Such is the breadth and depth of these musical passages, like unique, self-contained acts of a life-long, epic musical. I’m quite used to Mali’s playful, threatening, taunting and soaring vocals being jaw-dropping, but she has reached new heights (and depths) here. It’s the voice of a million colors.
The musical accompaniment provided by Mali’s exquisite piano and her insanely talented mini-orchestra – Daniel Schubmehl (drums, percussion), Tony Leva (upright bass), Rachel Jayson (viola), Dylan Jack (drums, percussion) and Petaluma Vale (harp, vocals) – is downright kaleidoscopic, begging for a thousand dancers to be flinging themselves around, under and over each other on a vast Broadway stage.
In this incomprehensible world we now find ourselves in, with so much discordant noise and nonsense all around, there are thankfully those extremely rare occasions of brilliance. Think of it as a tiny glistening diamond in a sea of shit. A sensible and sophisticated environment in endless rows of tacky used car lots and strip malls. And for that moment, as we behold that impossibly perfect gemstone forged from the chaos that surrounds it, against all odds, we are simultaneously taken out of ourselves and back into our center.
And that’s the crux of the matter.