Big Moves: Decoding jazz into rock

Angelica Bonomo

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(Band members starting from the left clockwise: Blake Straus, David Corwin, Wes Singerman, Taylor Dexter, and Jess Imme.) "It has all the fusions of a jazz band but it's not," Dexter states plainly, "It's a rock band." Photo Credit: Angelica Bonomo / Senior Photographer

The band “Big Moves” has a thing for dinosaurs and the color purple. More than half the songs on their first album, “In the Beginning”, were named after dinosaurs.

“Dinosaurs were a passion of mind as a child,” Blake Straus, 22, said. “It’s something we ran with in the first album. Purple is my favorite color; I think everyone in the band now likes the color. I wish it was deeper than that.”

What is deeper is the level of work and craftsmanship band members Straus, guitarist; Jess Imme, 26, vocalist; David Corwin, 21, bassist; Taylor Dexter, 19, drummer; and Wes Singerman, 19, guitarist; put into creating their sound. The indie rock band’s strong jazz influence sound is a compilation of the four male members’ classical jazz music background.

“It has all the fusions of a jazz band but it’s not,” Dexter plainly stated. “It’s a rock band, which makes our sound more palatable to audiences.”

“Big Moves” has used the terms jazz, math and rock to describe their sound due to the jazz harmonies and sophisticated cord productions typically found in a jazz setting. One of the their major influences is the progressive rock movement, a subgenera of music that incorporates classical music into a rock idiom.

“It’s something your mother could potentially listen to,” Straus explained. “But on first listen you’ll find that it’s not pretentious or difficult to enjoy.”

“When we play live it doesn’t feel like math rock,” Corwin added. “It feels like rock.”

“Big Moves” is currently working on their next album, which will be more cohesive and will be about art in all its forms. One of the newer songs “My Room Became A Forest,” was inspired by Maurice Sendak’s, “Where the Wild Things Are.”

Imme the band’s lead vocalist, and only female member wrote the lyrics for the song before the movie came out.

“When the movie came out we thought we have to get this recorded or everyone is going to think we’re copying Karen O. (singer that composed “Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack),” said Imme.

“Big Moves” went into the studios last year before the fall 2009 semester started to record “My Room Became A Forest,” and were so busy with the recording that Straus, who majored in jazz studies at CSUN, missed his beginning of the semester audition.

“Each semester at the beginning of the semester jazz majors have to do auditions if they want get into orchestra bands, and big combos,” Straus explained. “I however got stuck in the studio recording.”

Straus, who graduated from the jazz program last fall and Corwin, who was in the major a year before switching to media composition, agree that most people would be surprised by how hard and how long many people in the jazz major practice.

“I switched because it was just too intense,” said Corwin. “I remember in my first year I was in the practice room until like 11 at night and a bunch of us went out to eat and there were some engineer majors who were like ‘wow you guys are still here? I thought we were here late’ and I was like ‘man I’ve been here since 8 this morning.’ If people knew, they’d have a lot more respect for these kids.”

“Big Moves’” fan base is steadily growing with performances at music venues like The Roxy, features in music magazines and on-air interviews with Garth Trinidad of KCRW. Their growing success is largely thanks to the amount of care the band takes in producing quality martial.

“We spend a lot of time constructing our songs,” Singerman said. “Instead of trying to smash different parts together, we really work on matching harmonies, vocals and everything until we get … a story.”

Visit www.myspace.com/bigmovesband to listen to their new single, “My Room Became A Forest.”