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To say Jaggery is unconventional is an exercise in understatement. The band, which that night comprised singer Mali on vocals and keyboard, [Dylan Jack] on percussion, Tony Leva on upright bass and Rachel Jayson on viola — creates an enormously thick tapestry of music that is at varying points both comfortable and hauntingly familiar, and alien and jarring.

Tucked behind her keyboard at center stage as she is, it’s arresting how much presence the thin-framed vocalist can muster. Her voice is enormous, a howl that’s textured and melismatic, words and syllables rattled through a run of notes, giving the band’s songs an incantatory feel.

In a lot of ways, this music is uncharted territory for a Worcester bar, the way Jaggery straddles the realms of classical, world music and various flavors of alternative rock. At one point, Mali sang something along the lines of, “This is what I didn’t do to get here,” and it reverberates on a number of levels. This isn’t easy music, and the band seems keenly aware of this fact. It’s not the music you play if you’re seeking pop stardom. It’s the sort of music you play if you’re deeply, deeply in love with what you’re creating. That Jaggery can convey that love without alienating its audience is truly remarkable.

A lot of that almost surprising accessibility comes from the enormously talented instrumentalists, with each piece holding together like a breathtaking high-wire act. Listeners lose themselves in the music easily, but stopping to contemplate the precarious intricacy of each song is akin to looking down from a height. It’s dizzying, and you feel a pang of fear on the players’ behalf.

But the concerns are unwarranted the bass and percussion snap and pivot through the rapidly changing time signatures and sudden, operatic lifts and thrusts, and Jayson’s dynamic viola playing becomes a natural focal point for the audience’s eyes. She becomes the opposite polarity to Mali’s near hypnotic voice. There’s a wildness in her playing that pushes everything forward, but really, it’s clear each piece of the musical puzzle provides an integral piece of the music. (Indeed, it’s a shame the band’s fifth member, harpist Petaluma Vale, was absent, as one suspects that would have lent even more to an already excellent concert.)

Make no mistake, this is serious music. But in hindsight, one of the things that makes the show so engaging is how much fun the band seems to have playing. Instead of being heavy, all of these thick sounds feel joyful, as does moments of levity, such as when the band explains why they disagree on what the “one” note of a particular song is. And while they’re still riddled with emotion, songs such as the astrology-laden breakup song “Scorpio” are easy to relate to.

On the whole, it was a magnificent show, one only a handful of people saw all the way through. But for those who even caught just part of the show, it was clear they were witness to something amazing: The sort of music that sinks into your bones and lingers there a good, long while. (Victor D. Infante)

link for full article: http://www.telegram.com/article/20140527/COLUMN86/305279670