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The Bogie Band Featuing Stuart Bogie puts on a masterclass of musical power and joy

I absolutely love the jubilant, boundary-pushing The Prophets in the City by The Bogie Band featuring Joe Russo. It’s hard to be jubilant and boundary-pushing, but the prodigious talents of Stuart Bogie (saxes, flutes), Joe Russo (drums, percussion), and the rest of the 10-member outfit do both. These songs are ostensibly some sort of jazz, but the music transcends boundaries quickly. The enthusiasm of a marching brass band, the artsy vibes of a flute-led jazz combo, a composer’s ear for contrasting multiple parts together, a rock musician’s party vibes, and more come together in sonics that sweep me away into the story.

And even though this is instrumental work, there’s a narrative here: the moods vary throughout the record, and the titles give context to the variations. 8-minute opener “The Prophets in the City (Arrival, Balance, Discipline, Joy)” sets out the emotional range and the religious context of the record. The song moves like a block party: urgent flutes lead the way, a choir of horns follows up, a sax solo emerges, all underpinned by tuba bass. (I love tubas.) It’s  a workout for the musicians and outrageously fun for the listener. Follow-up “The Witnesses” displays the frenetic response the prophets get: angry dissonance mixed with curiosity and adventure. “We Met Them By The Water” is a mellow, sonorous piece that (I imagine) shows what the curious did: sneak off to hear the Prophets more. “Walking with the Holy Fools” is an (appropriately) strutting piece with a unique emotional energy. I won’t spoil the narrative for you; it’s a worthy journey.

There are joys all throughout this amazing, impressive record, but it would be criminal to not mention the roaring, soaring, pounding “We Organize.” Another 8-minute barn-burner, this one takes the listener through a lot of different emotions before hitting the high point where everything is going at once–5 minutes in. Then there’s a coda, then another coda, then another one, then another one … it’s brilliant.

I feel bad trying to describe this record with words. It’s the rare album that makes words almost a hindrance rather than the clumsy tools they usually are. If there’s anything in here that made you think “I might not be into that,” then lookit here: my words were insufficient and you are likely into this. This is top-shelf music, no genre labels needed. The Prophets in the City is adventurous, immersive, outrageous, and all around brilliant. Listen to this one immediately. Highly recommended.