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ONYX COLLECTIVE  

If Onyx Collective, the nebulous jazz ensemble whose name you may have overheard in downtown Manhattan at some point in the past couple years, seems elusive it is because they often are.

 

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Onyx shows are unannounced, impromptu affairs: the group will perform in a basement, at a cocktail lounge atop a hotel, and to the street from a storefront all in the course of a week. The cast of performers is interchangeable, as is the kind of music that they play. Salsa and funk are fair game, in addition to the band’s own unique style of jazz. Though an often rotating cast, Barr and Austin Williamson (on drums) are regularly joined by Joshua Benitez on keyboard, Jack Guliemetti on guitar, Felix Pastorius and Spencer Murphy on electric bass, and Dean Torrey and Walter Stinson on upright bass, with Maxwell Deter providing most of Onyx Collective’s visual art. There is an additional group of artists who consistently orbit in and out of the Onyx universe. Nick Hakim, Princess Nokia, Julian Soto, Dev Hynes, Wiki, and other New York mainstays have performed with the band, and Onyx quietly features on a bevy of other artists’ records. Barr featured 3 times on the new David Byrne record, made a cameo in Ibeyi’s live band for their performance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, toured as A$AP Rocky’s live band, opened for Thundercat, Kelsey Lu and more, and most recently worked with Chromeo on a new set of songs including fan-favorite “Baby.” A Chromeo & Onyx Collective-produced album, titled “Tango”, is set for release in 2022.

Release Number Artwork Artist Title Release Date Listen
JLT-010 08/12/21
ONYX COLLECTIVE
Tango
Tango
ONYX COLLECTIVE

Tango

This is the first song that Onyx Collective’s bandleader and composer Isaiah Barr brought to Chromeo for production, the first time Chromeo worked on producing another band and the first record that gave Dave and Pee the idea to start this very label. “Tango” is a true slice of jazz-funk, something harkening back to the Brand New Heavies era or New York’s legendary Giant Step parties and yet, because it is written and performed by a crew of vibrant twentysomethings, everything about this record is firmly grounded in downtown NY’s present. Here, the whole ensemble shines: Princess Nokia’s spoken word intro sets the stage for another one of Julian Soto’s superb harmony-laden vocal performances; Isaiah Barr’s horn arrangements and Isaac Sleator’s keys provide the necessary flourishes and all the while, the rhythm section of Austin Williamson and Felix Pastorius effortlessly bops along, like a sunny strut down Canal St.

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JLT-009 07/08/21
ONYX COLLECTIVE
Hummingbird
Hummingbird
ONYX COLLECTIVE

Hummingbird

Our second single from downtown New York’s polymorphous avant-jazz ensemble Onyx Collective is an early Sly/early Funkadelic-inspired psych-soul number called “Hummingbird.” The band had performed it around town for years and brought it to Chromeo for co-production. It took months of studio iterations to properly immortalize it on record. “Hummingbird” is long, dense, deeply melodic and as such, a total oddity in today’s playlist oriented ADD streaming market…which actually means that it’s doing everything right.

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JLT-003 07/17/20
ONYX COLLECTIVE
Baby
Baby
ONYX COLLECTIVE

Baby

The first Juliet single by New York’s polymorphous avant-jazz ensemble, taken from a forthcoming project co-produced with Chromeo. “Baby” starts off as a sensuous, sinuous love ballad, then transforms into a complex auto-tuned vocal arrangement only to resolve in a three minute free jazz finale. This is downtown kids making music for adults.

 

1 Baby

2 Baby (Edit)

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