“We’re a bunch of outsiders who refused to be kept out,” says High Pulp drummer Bobby Granfelt. “We’ve never had an academic approach to jazz—most of us grew up playing in DIY bands—so it was the rawness and the energy and the absolute freedom of the music that called to us in the first place.”
Drawing on bebop, punk rock, shoegaze, hip-hop, and electronic music, experimental jazz act High Pulp are announcing ‘Pursuit of Ends, their first full-length album with Los Angeles’s ANTI- Records. The frenetic “All Roads Lead To Los Angeles” is the first song from the album they have shared, which hints at the breakbeats of Louis Cole as it reflects the constant barrage of stimuli that define our modern lives.
High Pulp’s music is both vintage and futuristic all at once, hinting at times to everything from Miles Davis and Duke Ellington to Aphex Twin and My Bloody Valentine. The songs on ‘Pursuit of Ends’ balance meticulous composition with visceral spontaneity, and the performances are nothing short of virtuosic, fueled by raw, ecstatic horn runs ducking and weaving their way around thick bass lines and dizzying percussion.
While the Seattle-based collective is centered around a crew of six core members, they also make judicious use of a broad network of collaborators on the album, wrangling special guests like sax star Jaleel Shaw (Roy Haynes, Mingus Big Band), harpist Brandee Younger (Ravi Coltrane, The Roots), GRAMMY-nominated trumpeter Theo Coker, and keyboardist Jacob Mann (Rufus Wainwright, Louis Cole) to help stretch the boundaries of their already-expansive sonic universe. The result is a lush, cinematic collection that’s as unpredictable as it is engrossing, an urgent, exhilarating instrumental album that manages to speak to the moment without uttering a single word.
Music has been more than just medicine for High Pulp these past few years; it’s also been a source of community and meaning. Born out of a loose, weekly jam session hosted at Seattle’s historic Royal Room, the band came together the way a good heist crew might. There was keyboardist Antoine Martel, a mad scientist with a wall of modular synthesizers and a passion for film scores and abstract soundscapes; keyboardist Rob Homan, whose innate ability to process, deconstruct, and reassemble material on the fly bordered on the scary; bassist Scott Rixon, a convert from the metal and hardcore world with impeccable pop sensibilities and a selfless ability to serve the song; tenor saxophonist Victory Ngyuen, a Pharoah Sanders acolyte with an ear for urgent, entrancing solos of the highest order; alto saxophonist Andrew Morrill, whose bold tones and fearless harmonic sensibilities earned him a reputation for pushing the old school into the 21st century; and last but not least, Granfelt, whose hip-hop- and bebop-inspired drumming laid the foundation for the entire project.