Syntax Issue 10
Denver Syntax

{the sputter}

I don’t consider myself a jazz aficionado, nor do I even consider myself a music critic. I am, alas, just a man that has always looked at music as a drug. One that I cannot get enough of. And I have spent most of my adult life trying to reconcile the dollars and time allotted to this addiction. In this, I have tried, ardently to answer the question of: Why is music so appealing? Why is it my drug of choice?

To answer this I have mulled-over issues of rhythm, and in the end, of melody and dynamics. For me, whatever genre – whatever style, for me it is always about melody and dynamics.

Enter, The Sputter.

On the jazz continuum, I have found only a mild satisfaction for my quest of finding solid melody lines woven into an intriguing dynamic. In the end, I can probably name the acts I truly enjoy on one hand. However, sitting in front of The Sputter and I felt as though I had found an act that met my criterion.

A Denver-based jazz ensemble, The Sputter is comprised of Jon Wirtz (keyboard, effects, air synth, piano, organ), David Kurtz (drums, samples, percussion), Jonathan Rakstang (upright bass), Joshua Trinidad (trumpet, effects). And no, they are not your ordinary jazz act. All accomplished musicians – their aptitude in walking that fine line of experimentation is most developed.

With their album, Great Unseen, The Sputter (out on Bocumast Records) is beginning to make waves. With most of their roster playing in other acts (Kurtz in Astrophagus and Wirtz in Tiny Television) The Sputter could feel like a side-project. But with their melodic sensibilities and accomplished musicianship, they are a tight and solid act that can captivate an entire room.

Covering pieces by Radiohead and Beck, the band is keeping its paw on the element of progression. And we know that if jazz is anything, it is about the movement forward – rocking back into the touchstones of yesteryear. In this, The Sputter is a revelation.

Or, as their website proclaims, “a magnificent, ardent elation.”