STLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Recognizing Reptet


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Today, let's check out some videos of Reptet, a Seattle-based band that will be making their St. Louis debut next Saturday, May 14 at 2720 Cherokee.

With two brass, two reeds, bass and drums, the six-member Reptet incorporates a variety of influences, including jazz, funk, cartoon music, New Orleans brass bands and their Eastern European equivalents, into multi-part compositions often featuring several changes in tempo, mood and style.

All the brass and reed players deploy multiple instruments, which adds some nice timbral variety, and there's lots going on with the lower frequencies, as bassist Tim Carey frequently is joined in the nether regions by Nelson Bell's euphonium and tuba, Chris Credit's baritone sax and/or Isaak Mills on bass clarinet. Credit may be Reptet's most compelling soloist when playing tenor or alto sax, but the emphasis is mostly on ensemble playing, and all six musicians execute their parts skillfully.

While their music can be complex, Reptet also incorporates a good amount of humor into their presentation, with costumes—the “cartoon burglar" look seems to be a recurring motif, as you'll see in the videos below—silly hats, goofy or inscrutable spoken word bits, and so on. Given the inherent subjectivity of humor, there's always a chance that some people won't get it, but Reptet has an appealing energy, and in any event they certainly deserve credit for trying to do something different than the no-frills sort of staging that characterizes too many jazz performances.

The first video up above shows Reptet in June 2010 performing “Milky Shakes," a song from their new CD At The Cabin. Down below, you can see them play “Eltet" at a 2008 show in Boston, with trumpeter Samantha Boshnack leading the front line through some nice four-part writing.

Below that, drummer John Ewing shows off some New Orleans-style marching licks to kick off a St. Patrick's Day gig in 2009, as the other band members—now clad in leprechaun outfits—promenade through the audience to the stage while playing “Zeppo." Last but not least, there's another food-themed song, “Fish Market," taken from a 2007 performance, which starts out as jagged funk and ends with Chris Credit serving up a large order of saxophone skronk to go with the filet referenced in the lyric. (Note: while the video image is rather dark, the audio quality is just fine.)

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This story appears courtesy of St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman.
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