Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Kansas-Nebraska Act -- Music For Small Jazz Ensemble

It's finals and I work at a university, so you can imagine that there's just a lot of stress in the air. My officemate had a student sobbing at her desk for an hour and change. So it's a good time of year to find some music to relax to. And if the band's name should happen to reference a historical (though decidedly unchill) piece of legislation, all the better. David von Kampen's Kansas-Nebraska Act provides an emotional palate for all seasons, but I'm certainly grateful for the band's playful, confident compositions.


A few of the pieces have lyrics, but overall the band seems content to keep things loose. The songs have enough melodic structure to keep a narrow-minded square like me engaged but they're spacious enough to allow for some exciting technical gymnastics. Their cover of "Seven Nation Army" renders the song almost unrecognizable, forcing the lyrics to the foreground and, in some ways, changing the song for the better. Where most bands would focus on what is the world's best riff, The Kansas-Nebraska Act disarms us with a clever interpretation that helps us get to the song's heart. Overall, this is a breezy, intelligent album with a lot of staying power.



The Kansas-Nebraska Act -- Bandcamp

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