We slowed things down a bit by heading over to The Elephant Room for some Austin Jazz during SXSW 2018 on March 15. We were lucky enough to catch local Austin Jazz acts John Mills Times Ten and Chico Chico.
For those who may not be familiar with the Austin jazz band, John Mills Times Ten is a ten-piece band that performs the full spectrum of jazz sounds in one show. University of Texas Music Professor John Mills composes and arranges the music and plays the saxophone. Mills has arranged music for artists such as Rosanne Cash, Indigo Girls and David Byrne.
I’d describe John Mills Times Ten songs like happy combinations of musical scores from Pixar favorites such as “Up” and “Monsters Inc.” The band prides itself on its different styles of jazz that you’ll hear throughout their set. Band member Eric Johnson talked to the crowd between songs and informed the crowd with small anecdotes about putting the songs we were listening to, together as a band. John Mills Times Ten has one album titled, “Flying Blind” that was released in January of this year if you want to listen to some of their newer music.
Up next was a different type of jazz band. Chico Chico has a mix of male and female members. All of their songs are accompanied by vocals while not unheard of is something that differentiates them from other acts. The first song, “Exactly Like You” had an upbeat and quick feel to it. The lyrics were romantic, but it was a laid back piece and had an interesting beat that was captivating.
“Bei Mir Bist Du Schon”, had similar string chords, creating the same quick back-beat, but the feel was less romantic and relied more on the instrumentals to make it entertaining than the overall feel. Contrary to the title, the rest of the song is sung in English.
The third number had a different musical structure than most of Chico Chico’s songs. Typically, a Chico Chico song has a happy, quick beat, with the same string oriented back-beat. Instead of quick fast notes, the beat had notes that were stretched out and lasted longer before moving onto the next one. This created tension and allowed the audience to marinate on the chords, thus creating the mysterious and dark tone that was present throughout the piece.
Chico Chico is a local Austin band who describes themselves as a 1930’s hot jazz band. To find out when Chico Chico performs next, visit their website chicochico.org.
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