LISTEN TO THIS SESSION!
Grex is an Oakland, California-based trio composed of me, Karl Evangelista, (guitar/vocals), Rei Scampavia (keys/vocals), and Robert Lopez (drums). In biological terms, a “grex” is an entity composed of several smaller organisms. Grex (the band) was formed as a way to explore the meeting point between popular song and experimental jazz, creating a new music that both epitomizes its influences and moves in fresh directions.
Most of our work over the past few years has involved developing environments for improvising musicians and musicians more versed in “closed” performance practices (e.g., pre-20th century “classical” repertoire and modern pop music) to fruitfully coexist in. This emphasis may be traced to the genesis of the band; Grex was conceived of as a collaboration between me, a practicing jazz and blues musician, and Scampavia, a formally trained classical pianist. Grex was forced to confront the technical limitations fostered by the “linguistic” disconnect between musicians from different backgrounds; in this case, Scampavia and I had differing performance strategies. Grex found a happy medium wherein each member adopted elements of the other’s style. This band was, and remains, a microcosm of my larger creative inquiry: how can one reconcile disparate elements, and at the same time create a unity that is greater than the sum of its parts?
For our set at Racer Sessions, we will draw pieces and concepts from our 2014 album Monster Music. Adding drummer Robert Lopez to the project has nudged us in both freer and heavier directions, and his ability to generate connective tissue between textural improvisation and less mobile rhythmic structures has allowed us to engage with both traditional free jazz (we include pieces by Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, and Albert Ayler in our touring repertoire) and characteristics associated with Bay Area noise pop (Deerhoof, Tune-Yards, etc.).
In terms of categories, I cannot say whether our current music is either jazz or pop, but our pieces are seriously and diligently practiced in a way that is not in and of itself “experimental.” We have tried our best to create music that is both singular and vaguely traditional, so perhaps terms like “post jazz,” “post rock,” or even something so fraught as “postmodern” are appropriate.