The Octopod Celebrates Debut Album Release

Mix a dash of Eric Andre references, 8 jazzy boys, and a heavy dollop of entropy. Broil in a small rehearsal space until golden brown. Set out to cool, and you’ve got yourself an Octopod. If you’ve seen ads for the upcoming album release show and found yourself wondering, “what exactly… is this?” then you’re not alone. Avant-garde jazz is an acquired taste, but the Octopod is something new entirely; there’s something intrinsically captivating about the mixture of chaos and mastery. In their newest release “Monoliths and Sepulchres,” the 8-piece band bridges the gap between many opposites: the free jazz and DIY scene, improv and composition, group and individual expression. The group is nominated for two 2018 DAM Awards, including Best Jazz Act and Best Experimental Act.

Founder Garrett Wingfield, who plays bari sax and also composes for the group, said this of the project’s genesis: “The Octopod was a project I had in mind in my head as soon as I got to UNT. After I finished school, I had enough material to play a full set without any pure improvised music to speak of, instead incorporating it into the tunes themselves.” Wingfield describes the group as equal parts experimental/free/improvised group and jazz/classical composition project, yet maintains that the Octopod keeps the mentality of a DIY band. The band, by the way, is comprised of 3 saxes, trombone, trumpet, piano, drums and bass - all UNT jazz program alumni. The group’s large size has benefits of both a small chamber group and a big band - allowing for a “wall of sound” when needed, but still showcasing smaller, intricate counterpoint.

This upcoming album alternates between improvised interlude and composed piece; each interlude is a dynamic, sometimes silly, solo work by each of 8 members. The release of “Monoliths and Sepulchres” has been accompanied by several videos, illustrated by UNT jazz alum Conner Eisenmenger, who draws the soloist’s face contorting and transfiguring itself along with the improvisation. Eisenmenger says that “the goal of the animations is to celebrate the unique musical qualities we now share from our time growing together,” and that he feels lucky to be able to bring a visual representation of each band member’s personal musical spirit.

Consider the Octopod to be the avant-garde jazz version of Disney’s Fantasia. If you’re still feeling squeamish but are a fan of St. Vincent, listen to the band’s cover of St. Vincent’s Cruel from their 2016 EP “i feel lost.” Or, if you’re as enamored with the Octopod as its Denton cult following is, listen to their newest release on bandcamp, consider donating to their indiegogo, and of course, attend the “Monoliths and Sepulchres” album release party and show at Dan’s Silverleaf this Wednesday, Jan 10th, at 8pm.

Header image courtesy of the Octopod
Header design courtesy of Christopher Rodgers

Mallory Frenza