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Saturday, February 1, 2014

YAPP - Symbolic Heads (No Business, 2013)***½

By Martin Schray

Even for the standards of NoBusiness, a label that sometimes features artists who haven’t been very well known so far, YAPP is a really young band, all of the band members seem to be around 30. It’s Bryan Rogers ­on tenor saxophone, Alban Bailly ­on guitar, Matt Engle ­on bass and David Flaherty ­on drums, and they cultivate the field between post rock, modern jazz, minimal and improvised music.
I must admit that I was rather skeptical when I realized that Bryan Rogers has played in Melody Gardot’s band but obviously he does that for a living, while at least a part of him seems to love more daring music. And indeed it is full of surprises since it is not the “typical” stuff the label is famous for. The songs are written by Alban Bailly, who is a prolific member of the European and US improv scene (he has played with Fred Lonberg-Holm, Tony Buck and Eve Risser) and he and Rogers work together absolutely well.

“Papalosquamous”, the first track, shows where things are heading: Guitar and sax play a minimal Steve-Reich-like theme and Engle counters it with his bass figures. When the drums drop in the track becomes very relaxed, it almost swings before it takes another turn back to the theme and a classic jazz break with a sax solo while in the background a creepy guitar sneaks in. Most of the music is notated, sometimes it is a bit intellectual, but on a very sophisticated and subtle level.

The best tracks on the album are on the flipside of the record. “Lolas” starts at breath-taking velocity, Bailly shows great skills here – before the band comes to a sudden stop so that Rogers can add a great solo. As surprising as the drop-out was, as out of the blue the band comes back: of course at full speed again. The whole track is pure punk jazzrock mentality. “Unpasteurized”, the track that follows, reminds of the legendary SST band Universal Congress Of, especially their guitarist Joe Baiza might have influenced Bailly’s style and sound, although there is a strong Django Reinhardt element in his playing as well. But what makes this tune so interesting is the fact that they seem to lose structure in the middle (especially Engle’s bass is marvelous here) before the guitar leads them back on track again.
As many NoBusiness albums I also like this one better the more often I listen to it.

“Symbolic Heads” is available on vinyl and it is limited to 300 copies, you can buy it from

Watch and listen to a large session here:


Tom Burris said...

Well done, Martin - and thanks for the introduction to this band. I'm liking this link quite a bit!

Roberto - Jazz photographer said...


Maxime said...

Very good sound ! Recommanded...nice review.