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Darcy James Argue's Secret Society

Featuring: WINDS
Marc Phaneuf
Rob Wilkerson
John Ellis
Mark Small
Josh Sinton

Seneca Black
Tom Goehring
Matt Holman
Nadje Noordhuis
Ingrid Jensen

Ryan Keberle
Mike Fahie
James Hirschfeld
Jennifer Wharton

Sebastian Noelle, guitar
Gordon Webster, piano
Matt Clohesy, bass
Jon Wikan, drums

Darcy James Argue

Known as “a masterful tunesmith” (Troy Collins, with “a fresh take on what a jazz big band can do” (Peter Hum, Ottawa Citizen), Darcy James Argue is one of the most visible young composers in jazz. Critics have credited him with developing “a nearly perfect creative synthesis between tradition and innovation” (John Eyles,, calling his compositions “ambitious, sprawling, mesmerizing” (Juan Rodriguez, Montreal Gazette) and noting his “big, broad musical vocabulary” (Ben Ratliff, New York Times). Time Out New York’s Hank Shteamer adds, “Argue draws on the full spectrum of modern rock, jazz and classical music” in a way that “handily transcends pastiche.”

A native of Vancouver, and former member of the Montreal jazz scene, Argue moved to New York in 2003 after studying with legendary composer Bob Brookmeyer. Since 2005, he has led his own 18-piece big band, Secret Society, in regular performances around the city at a diverse range of venues, including Le Poisson Rouge, the Jazz Gallery, and the Bowery Poetry Club. Secret Society evokes an alternate musical history in which the dance orchestras that ruled the Swing Era never went extinct, but remained a popular and vital part of the evolving musical landscape. Adopting a steampunk-inspired attitude towards the traditional big band, Argue refashions this well-worn instrumentation into a cutting-edge ensemble.

The band’s debut recording, Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam Records), which takes its name from a John Philip Sousa quote about the dangers of music technology, was released in May 2009 to widespread acclaim. Newsweek’s Seth Colter Walls praised it as “a wholly original take on big band’s past, present and future” and Time Out New York’s David R. Adler awarded it five stars and proclaimed it “a seven-track marvel of imagination.” In his feature article on Argue for the Village Voice, Richard Gehr called it “maximalist music of impressive complexity and immense entertainment value, in your face and then in your head.”