When musician friends come together in an informal setting, they don't typically expect more than a good time. But when these meetings result in ongoing collaborations, it's an exciting spectacle.
The Brooklyn jazz quartet Endangered Blood was formed so its members could play benefit concerts for their friend, saxophonist Andrew D'Angelo, who'd been diagnosed with a brain tumor. D'Angelo eventually made a full recovery, but the group — Trevor Dunn (bass), Jim Black (drums), Chris Speed (tenor saxophone) and Oscar Noriega (alto saxophone) — realized that this ensemble had potential to become a real working band. In 2011, the four released a self-titled debut album.
Endangered Blood's music draws from the members' diverse backgrounds and influences, combining post-bop, 20th-century chromaticism, traditional New Orleans funeral marches, avant-garde jazz and post-punk to create a sort of mad-scientist concoction. Its compositions are cerebral, but they're also gritty and full of energy.
We recently invited Endangered Blood to stop by the NPR Music offices while touring through Washington, D.C. Coming from the truck stops of the American South, they could have passed for grunge or punk rockers if they didn't have their saxophones with them (not to mention Speed's porkpie hat). With trucker caps and leather wristbands in tow, the quartet carried off a raw, edgy aesthetic — one more reminder of jazz's immediacy today.
- Chris Speed, tenor sax
- Oscar Noriega, alto sax
- Trevor Dunn, bass
- Jim Black, drums
Producers: Patrick Jarenwattananon and Dominic Martinez; Editor: Michael Katzif; Videographers: Michael Katzif and Emily Bogle; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; photo by Emily Bogle/NPR