Iowa City-based electronic jazz trio Jack Lion performs tonight at The Mill. Consisting of drummer Justin LeDuc, bassist and vocalist Drew Morton, and trumpet player and producer Brian Lewis Smith, Jack Lion is routinely praised for how skillfully it melds electronic samples into its live performance, avoiding the sort of hammy and kitschy sound that many have come to be associated with fusion jazz.
During the band’s current tour, Smith has advanced this strength by centering the group’s improvisation around electronic looping.
“Brian makes a live loop and the rest of us develop a groove spontaneously over that loop,” explained LeDuc. “We typically create these sort of jam interludes a few times per set, and that has taken some getting used to. Since we have been playing so much, those interludes have gotten tighter, more interesting and more adventurous for us.”
LeDuc also notes the band’s pride over the consistency they’ve maintained during their recent performances.
“On this tour, we have played small restaurants and we’ve played big rock venues, and we were able to adjust appropriately and play well in each of those settings,” LeDuc said. “There have have been very few nights when we get done playing and I think we didn’t play a great set. That feels really good.”
In addition to their touring, Jack Lion released a new EP this January and debuted eye-catching music videos for their songs “Snapdragon” (above) and Birds this February.
After a few more shows in June, Jack Lion will temporarily disband as all three of members will join Koplant No for a performance at the World Saxophone Congress in Strasbourg, France. When the three musicians return in July, they plan to go on a hiatus from live Jack Lion performances until October in order to focus on writing music for the band’s next EP.
Tonight’s show will be the last time to catch Jack Lion play in Iowa City before the fall.