While the Industrial Jazz Group's odd moniker conjures images of Nine Inch Nails with a horn section, the Los Angeles combo is actually about as industrial as Bob Seger. (Just in case, City of Angles' cover includes the warning "File under: 'Jazz.'") Fortunately, even the "jazz" in the band's name is a word best applied loosely. Eschewing the usual format of a brief melody line followed by various solos and a return to the melody, composer/pianist Andrew Durkin prefers to grow his pieces organically, flitting between styles with effortless precision. The opener, "Theme From City of Angles," proceeds like a tweaked marching band number -- John Philip Sousa on steroids -- with Cory Wright pumping baritone sax over a peppy drumbeat, followed by piano, trombone, flute, vibraphone, and trumpet parts that never dissolve into indulgent soloing. "Full-On Freak" has an even richer flavor of late-'50s, early-'60s swing, as the horn section lays down a groove that would do Cab Calloway proud. The industrial part of the group -- such as it is -- breaks in on "Losing Proposition," when crunchy synth and theremin disturb the smooth surface of the danceable jazz.
Durkin's ear for catchy, peppy tunes, and his ability to spread them among his web of musical voices, has an Ellingtonian touch to it -- the sense of a music flowing upward and outward from its sources, changing as it goes, but never losing the feel of its origins. In addition to Duke, Durkin also counts Frank Zappa and Charles Mingus among his inspirations. With the achievements of this second Industrial Jazz Group album, it's possible to imagine composers citing Durkin as an influence someday.