Jazz Underground, Afoot in New York – Too Many Zooz

Towards the end of last year, during my stay in New York, in one of those encounters which can punctuate the intervals one spends on the streets of that city or in their extensions underground, the subways, and which render them often so exciting and even marvellous, in the Union Square station I chanced upon a trio of musicians whose brilliant sound had already entranced a considerable crowd, which was burgeoning by the minute – it was rush hour – and I too decided to linger awhile. With its energetic percussion and virtuoso saxophone and trumpet this small brass ensemble was pulling out all the stops, and though no doubt nearly everyone there had places to go and people to see, together with the band we were all consenting to conjure a concert or even a dance hall forth from that nexus of subterranean corridors.

Evidently the three were regular visitors to this spot. Business cards being dispensed listed their Facebook page and an e-⁠mail address. The band’s name was quirky and easy to remember: Too Many Zooz.

Later that evening, pursuit of the lead on the Internet disclosed their names – Matt Muirhead, Dave Parks, and Leo Pellegrino – but not much else by way of information, apart from the times they had scheduled to play in that subway station, which the Facebook page provided well in advance. The band appeared there regularly, twice or three times a week.

A quick consultation of Youtube, however, did turn up two longer videos – stable and with good-⁠quality sound – of Too Many Zooz in action. (In the first, the meaning of the band’s name is clarified.)

The Union Square station was well-⁠chosen as a locale, given the sheer numbers of passengers passing through it, the major station between downtown and midtown Manhattan as well as the conduit for the very busy subway line to and from Williamsburg or similarly hip destinations further to the east. Yet not merely in this provisional locale, but also in their music itself, streams from various sources mix, cross, or blend together – tunes derived from klezmer on the saxophone, bursts of Cajun- or Caribbean-⁠like percussion – in a jazz music with an experimental vibe and exuding potent joy in all directions.

Recently the Facebook page, in addition to providing the schedule of its subway performances, has announced the imminent release of a first album, entitled F Note – scheduled for this coming Sunday. It will be available during the Union Square gigs in the form of an actual CD, but in addition Too Many Zooz will offer it (for listening and digital downloading) via the Internet.

If what’s been available up until this point is any indication, Too Many Zooz, it’s safe to say, is going to travel far.

Postscript. The EP has been posted in full on the band’s Soundcloud page.