Review : Celtic Lines
By William Cook – Arizona Jazz Magazine October – 2005
Subterranean Jazz’s music is as unique and different as their name. Make no mistake this is great jazz. It is jazz of a different nature as jazz has always been throughout the history of this American art form. Subterranean Jazz who’s members include Tom Clohessy, Jimmy Peggie, Dave Sorensen and Jeff Lauffer are very creative and innovative musicians.
The CD is titled Celtic Lines. which presents an Irish influence that at one point may make you do an Irish jig and at another will make you feel as though you are in a seperate musical sphere you never heard or experienced before. Celtic Lines is a groove and ethnic experience.
This is unique and awesome music that pushes the envelop a little higher in the manner of jazz improvisers of the past. The song selection, for which most were written and arranged by the musicians, provides a provocative musical experience for all lovers of great jazz. Celtic Lines draws thw lines between jazz music improvising and jazz music creativity. Subterranean Jazz is a group to recognize. With the release of Celtic Lines, Subterranean Jazz will be submerged no more.
Article : Jazz Guys Cool With Any Gig
By Megan Finnerty – Photo by Michael Chow – Arizona Republic October – 2005
The night starts off normally enough.
At Rosie McCaffrey’s Irish Pub, string bassist Jimmy Peggie introduces himself, tenor saxophonist Tom Clohessy and guitarist Jeff Lauffer, three of the four men in Phoenix’s Subterranean Jazz.
(Drummer Dave Sorensen recently moved to Prescott and can’t make it.)
A band of fiddlers is hosting a jam session, and one of them, Sheila Maguire, played at the men’s CD-release party, so Peggie and Clohessy get up to say hi. When it’s time to eat, the three order normal food, all fish and chips. We talk about regular stuff, mostly the band’s music, described as jazz with Celtic sensibilities.
As if on cue, the fiddlers break into the first song from Subterranean Jazz’s CD, the traditional Merrily Kiss the Quaker’s Wife.
The song is the most obviously Celtic track on the 17-song Celtic Lines, a mix of original songs composed primarily by Peggie and Clohessy punctuated by a few noticeably Celtic moments, with distinct Caribbean and reggae influences.
After eating, we go to downtown Phoenix and the Ice House, a partially roofless building of exposed beams and broken tiles.
Suddenly, everything is not normal.
Inside, a pretty woman in a bobbed wig, red corset and black gauchos extracts a boa constrictor from a basket and drapes it around herself like a shawl, a headband, a snuggly blanket.
We’re there to see the Yard Dogs Road Show, a troupe of San Francisco-based carnival hipsters and burlesque beauties, and the men’s friends, Sonorous, a Valley-based jazz ensemble that opened the night’s performances and then played during the glass-walking and nail-up-the-nose tricks.
There are no chairs, so we stand in back and survey the crowd.
Only Clohessy, with a black beret, graying goatee and little rectangular glasses, even begins to fit in, seeing that most of the crowd is in costume, receiving discounted admission for dressing so.
The woman in front of us is in a cream negligee accessorized with an apron, knee socks and a leather aviator cap. Next to her, a fit, bare-chested young man in black briefs stomps in furry, knee-high boots.
Peggie looks at me, raises his eyebrows and smiles. He’s nearly as striking as the stomper, thin and tall with a shaved head.
In his black suit, he comes across as suave, but it may just be the curling R’s of his Scottish accent.
As a man onstage puts his body through an unstrung tennis racket, the men grab drinks.
I set mine down on an old hospital gurney and Clohessy remarks that his friend owns the venue. He has seen everything here – sand-painting Tibetan monks, fashion shows and concerts – but this is the first time he’s seen a man juggle a running chain saw, a 12-pound bowling ball and a plastic egg.
As a jazz band, these men often find themselves in strange situations, surrounded by people doing strange things. Jazz bands are often hired to make parties feel posh, to add an air of elegance or class to the event.
Subterranean Jazz has played a holiday party at the Scottsdale Nordstrom, where they were given silk shirts to wear while performing; on a Scottsdale roof, where Jeff was nearly singed by the chimney; in the frozen-food aisle of a Bashas’ in Apache Junction while people shopped for hams around them.
About 70 percent of the band’s gigs are corporate, including the opening of a Target in Mesa.
“We got a discount and I bought a pair of swim trunks,” remembers Lauffer. “It was great.”
Once, while the band played a benefit for a refugee-aid organization, a group of Kurdish refugees got out of their seats and took to the stage and showed off their own traditional songs.
So when, later in the evening, three heavily made-up women dressed as prisoners strip, dance and pantomime a double homicide, the men are nonplused.
“We play under all kinds of circumstances,” Peggie says with a smile.
Article : Subterranean Jazz adds Celtic melodies to the mix
By Chris Hansen Orf – Get Out Magazine May – 2005
More than most musical genres, jazz feeds off experimentation, improvisation and challenging song structures, and local combo Subterranean Jazz is even more experimental than most groups plying their trade in the Valley. The group will celebrate the release of its new third record, “Celtic Lines,” Sunday at Kazimierz World Wine Bar.
On the band’s two previous albums, the group composed straightforward jazz pieces and experimented with a variety of Latin and world beats, but “Celtic Lines” finds the group expanding its scope into traditional Irish melodies. “We wanted to bring some of where we come from into the music,” says bassist and composer Jimmy Peggie, a native of Perth, Scotland. “We’re interested in beats from around the world, and Celtic is not the sort of thing that’s been done that much in jazz.”
“We kind of wanted to give people a sonic detour,” explains tenor saxophonist and composer Tom Clohessy, a fan of traditional Irish folk music. “ ‘Celtic Lines’ kind of indicates that (the Celtic) influence is not always overt, but it’s a thread that runs through the music.”
Both Clohessy and Peggie, who write the majority of the combo’s material, have a variety of musical influences — and the upstart, do-it-yourself attitude of the group is evident in its ability to seamlessly infuse jazz originals with reggae, rock, Latin and world beat music. Subterranean Jazz, which also includes Dave Sorensen on drums and guitarist Jeff Lauffer, takes an approach to jazz that challenges the academic norm.
“There are some jazz players — and I’ve had somebody tell me this — who say ‘You need to learn a standard tune so tight that you have absolute contempt for it,’” Clohessy says. “And then you can disassemble it and do your own thing from there. Part of me understands that, but the other part of me thinks, like with Gershwin and Cole Porter, I love the song and sometimes I’d be content just to play the melody. But to say that it’s just some passé thing — I don’t get that.”
“All music is valid, no matter who it’s by,” Peggie says. “It’s someone expressing themselves, it’s their art form.”
“We play the kind of music we like to hear,” Clohessy says. “And it’s great when other people like it, too.”
Review: Subterranean Jazz: Subway Sonnets CD
Mellow grooves and lush rhythms combine to take the listener on a melodic soundscape on Subterranean Jazz’s latest CD, Subway Sonnets. The musicianship is top notch and displays a tight group that clearly enjoys having fun as well as performing. The musical diversity is refreshing and and keeps the recording exciting. On the track “Irma”, the music vibe is enveloped in a funky African stew and brew, which will have your toes tapping and head swaying to the infectious groove. One of the real treats is the selection “Irish Kid” which blends jazz and Celtic themes with satisfying results. Whether jamming on percussion or sustaining tight rhythms on his kit, percussionist Dave Sorenson exhibits great skill throughout the recording. Tom Clohessy’s saxophone work showcases a warm brown tone and he is equally adept on guitar. Doublebassist Jimmy Peggie holds the session together with a full and deep sound. Check out his solo on the mellow selection “The Fever Broke”. The session also features some very nice guitar work from guest fretmen, Jeff Lauffer and Chris Rodgers. Subway Sonnets was recorded on independent label Subjazz and is a solid treat for those who desire their jazz smooth, but not overly placid.
Reviewed by Mark F. Turner, All That Jazz, March 2002.
Review: Subterranean Jazz: Subway Sonnets CD
It might be this reviewer’s New-York-centricity (though I’m a transplant), but I do not think there are any subways in Scottsdale, let alone anywhere in Arizona. In fact, I do not think there are any legitimate subway systems in the United States, save New York (Bostonians wanting to quibble, the T is not a viable candidate). That said, does jazz have a place underground? Well, in the beginning, before jazz became the huge mainstream success it is today, with the videos and arena tours, it used to be a back-bar smoky room phenomenon. So why not the subways, where, as a former boss of mine liked to say, the dregs of society dwell? Well, us dregs and our transportation woes -–infuriating delays, rerouted trains, the stench and the rats – are precisely what Subterranean Jazz is hoping to embody with its beautifully melodic, lilting jazz. They do an impressive job, even for a bunch of Arizonians trying to gain their cool cards by claiming subways. Lester bangs once said of the New York nightlife, “Everything else is Gila Bend, Arizona, baby.” Maybe Gila Bend has jazz of this quality. And subways.
Reviewed by Tyson Schuetze, Relix Magazine, March 2002.
Review: Subterranean Jazz: Subterranean CD
I love Beeloes on Mill Avenue in Tempe. I love their spicy Cajun Fries the intimate atmosphere and most of all, I really, really dig the jazz ensembles that play there.Maybe that’s why I’m so into Valley foursome Subterranean Jazz’s latest self-titled disc – because it’s just the sort of music you’d hear floating out of Beeloes on a breezy Saturday evening. The album features nine original tunes – some of which, Zenlike in particular, are mysterious and sensual, others, such as Jimmie’s House and Surfin, that are smooth and enjoyable, and all of which are as tasty as a frothy vanilla latte. The music is catchy but not so overbaring that you can’t carry on a conversation over a plate of those tasty fries without having to scream “what?” time and again. So if you like a little music with your meal, Subterranean is certainly the catch of the day. Rated “A”.
Reviewed by Adrienne Frank. The Tribune, Get Out magazine 11/4/1999
Review: Subterranean Jazz: Subterranean CD
Don’t be fooled by this band’s name. Subterranean Jazz isn’t some crazy avant-garde squack outfit. Instead, the group is painlessly mainstream and often can be seen gigging around town at harbors such as Starbucks and the Willowhouse. More than anything else, these jazzbos exhibit a high degree of skill with improvisational melody. Tenor-sax man Tom Clohessy, who contributes four originals to the album is definatly a man with a knack for a memorable hook. Even when he’s jamming, he’s only one step away from the toe-tappers and fingersnappers in the audience. Check out the song Dara, for example. It’s a sunny bossa nove/samba type of thing that is so incredibly straight-ahead and perfect it already sounds like a jazz standard. There’s no singing on the disc, but listeners will surely hear lyrics if they try hard enough. And that’s the way it is with this foursome. Whether jumping with sexy grooves or fooling around with New age silliness, it retains it’s catchy and likable qualities. It’s time Subterranean Jazz came out of the dark.
Reviewed by Eric Searleman. The Arizona Republic 1/6/2000
Press release: Subterranean Jazz
Celtic Jazz Blooms in the Arizona Desert with New CD Release Celtic Lines by Subterranean Jazz
Phoenix, AZ Celtic Jazz is alive and growing in the Arizona desert of all places! Celtic Lines is the new CD from Phoenix based Subterranean Jazz a truly original jazz group.
Phoenix, AZ (PRWEB) April 21, 2005 — Celtic Jazz is alive and flourishing in the Arizona desert. William Wallace meets Wyatt Earp no less!! This is not as strange as it sounds! Celtic Lines is the new CD from Subterranean Jazz. This is the 3rd CD release from the Phoenix-based improvisers. Celtic Lines features some traditional Celtic music but also refers to a thread flowing through the music rather than a blend of pure Celtic and jazz.
“We wanted to do something that was original and also something that was true to who we were.” said Jimmy Peggie the group’s bassist. “Tom Clohessy and I are the main songwriters and we both have strong ties to Ireland and Scotland. It seemed only natural that our heritage would surface in our music. The goal was to convey something that was both personal and honest. ’
The music herein is best described as jazz with an undercurrent of Celtic sensibility. The grooves are international or oblivious to genre; but you can also hear some dub, reggae, end even some Latin grooves influenced perhaps by the reggae clubs of Edinburgh or ‘Come Dancing’ on the BBC on a Sunday night.
“My family’s roots are in County Clare and Limerick. said Tom Clohessy. In 1974 I was over in England at the Cambridge Folk Festival and saw Planxty from Ireland and the harpist Alan Stivell from Brittany. Hearing them was like “coming home” and I took to everything connected with them like a fish to water.”
Jimmy Peggie was born in Perth in Scotland. Along with his work with Subterranean Jazz he has recorded in a number of different musical situations including Irish band the Clare Voyants and also with Irish singer Brid Dower.
The CD can be purchased online from distributors Bathtub Music at www.bathtubmusic.com. Their two previously released CDs, ‘Subway Sonnets’ and ‘Subterranean’ are also available there.
About Subterranean Jazz
Subterranean Jazz is a Phoenix, Arizona jazz group playing original, improvisational music which highlights danceable grooves from around the world while maintaining the creative edge of straight-ahead jazz. The quartet features Tom Clohessy on tenor sax, Jimmy Peggie on double bass, Dave Sorensen on drums, and Jeff Lauffer on guitar. Their website is http://www.subjazz.com.