Michael Feinberg: Where anime meets yesterday 

Atlanta jazz head unveils his 'Evil Genius'

Jazz composer and bass player Michael Feinberg possesses a deep reverence for Japanese culture. At the age of 19 he self-released a debut CD, Harajuku, named after a small but progressive section of Tokyo that he explains is "where all the anime and weird goth chicks hang out." But beyond that Harajuku is also bound by tradition. It's a place where those weird goth chicks share the streets with locals wearing kimonos, and they coexist in harmony.

"I'm interested in bringing these things together in music, juxtaposing traditional and modern cultures," Feinberg says. "They can coexist, but there seems to be a rift between the more modern jazz musicians and the old school traditionalists."

Feinberg's forthcoming second CD, Evil Genius, is rooted in traditional jazz music but leans toward the rhythms of hip-hop and rock 'n' roll. "I'm a child of the '80s and '90s," Feinberg adds. "Sonny Rollins came out of bebop, and what he did as an artist was in response to that. What I'm doing is in response to what I came up listening to."

Evil Genius opens with a slow swirl of staccato drum and piano debris that staggers to a crescendo, embracing elements of both pop music and the avant-garde. Toward the end of the disc, "Two Left Feet" moves with a stronger flare for jazz music of the hard-bop variety, circa 1960, by smoothing out the twists and turns of vintage chaos with bold rhythms and textures of the here and now.

But what's most indicative of Feinberg's mission is his live version of the standard tune "Nardis" that Miles Davis made famous in the '50s. Together with Che Marshall (drums), Brian Hogans (saxophone) and Alex Wintz (guitar), the group melds the sway of the song with raw, hip-hop beats, in a real-time mashup of traditions. "We'll do a few standards with hip-hop beats," Feinberg adds. "They'll all have a real ATL vibe."


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