Us, Today Explores Intersection of Progressive Rock, Electric Jazz on 'Computant' Eight years ago three friends from Oxford, Ohio, decided to start a band. On one of the recording tapes they wrote "Us, Today" and the name stuck. Their fourth album Computant is out now and is one to savor.
NPR logo

Us, Today Explores Intersection of Progressive Rock, Electric Jazz on 'Computant'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/622361983/622362007" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Us, Today Explores Intersection of Progressive Rock, Electric Jazz on 'Computant'

Review

Music Reviews

Us, Today Explores Intersection of Progressive Rock, Electric Jazz on 'Computant'

Us, Today Explores Intersection of Progressive Rock, Electric Jazz on 'Computant'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/622361983/622362007" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Eight years ago three friends from Oxford, Ohio, decided to start a band. On one of the recording tapes they wrote "Us, Today" and the name stuck. Their fourth album Computant is out now and is one to savor.

(SOUNDBITE OF US, TODAY'S "GREETINGS FROM THE MASTER")

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The vibraphone is rarely heard in hard rock and electric free jazz. But as music critic Jim Fusilli explains, it's at the heart of the music of the jazz trio Us, Today.

JIM FUSILLI, BYLINE: Us, Today formed eight years ago when vibraphonist Kristin Agee met drummer Jeff Mellot and guitarist Joel Griggs. She had studied classical music at Ohio University and wasn't familiar with the instrument's jazz masters, but she adapted quickly as the trio began to play in public.

(SOUNDBITE OF US, TODAY'S "GREETINGS FROM THE MASTER")

FUSILLI: When they added a Miles Davis track to their set list and she took note of Ruth Underwood, who played vibes in Frank Zappa's early bands, a world of new possibilities appeared.

(SOUNDBITE OF US, TODAY'S "GREETINGS FROM THE MASTER")

FUSILLI: On "Computant," their fourth album, Us, Today continues to explore the place where prog rock, electric jazz and jam bands come together. Agee exploits the vibraphone's utility as both a melodic and percussive instrument, teeing up the space for improvisation. In Us, Today, roles are fluid.

(SOUNDBITE OF US, TODAY'S "BEST UNFRIENDS")

FUSILLI: Drummer Mellot favors power over swing, but he knows when to step back. And like Agee, guitarist Griggs can fill the mid-range or solo over the thunder. Now and then on "Computant," they all play percussion until Griggs is ready to roar.

(SOUNDBITE OF US, TODAY'S "BEST UNFRIENDS")

FUSILLI: Though saddled with a cumbersome name, as Google delivers visitors to the website of a certain newspaper, the extra effort to discover Us, Today is worth it. On "Computant," we hear the trio tapping into a range of rock and jazz sounds.

(SOUNDBITE OF US, TODAY'S "SPELLCASTER")

FUSILLI: Some tracks wander into jazz-funk territory. Some sound like indie rock. Brewed together, those sounds, the inventive nature of the trio and a tasty application of the vibraphone make Us, Today a band on the rise that can be savored right now.

(SOUNDBITE OF US, TODAY'S "SHARIN'")

CORNISH: The latest from Us, Today is called "Computant." Our reviewer is Jim Fusilli.

(SOUNDBITE OF US, TODAY'S "SHARIN'")

Copyright © 2018 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.