The Sputter
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The Sputter

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Instrumental music can be cold and clinical. Fortunately, the Sputter -- which thankfully doesn't live up to its foreboding tag -- fans its sound to more combustible ends. On its latest disc, Great Unseen, the outfit ignites a mother lode of grooves with the pleasing sparks of the organ-driven opener, "Modus"; from there, it meanders through a wonderland of ambient numbers (with whimsical monikers such as "Aqueous Wanderings," "Foctip" and "Shady Creatures") that flicker, crackle and smolder with effected keys, pulsing percussion and loose, jazzy playing. Some of the material on Unseen pushes the edge of self-indulgence, yet the bulk of the compositions are fresh and provide some fine background music for the soul. Prepare to warm your senses around the flames of what the Sputter -- which takes its cues from Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Miles Davis and John Coltrane, among others -- has dubbed "electrocosmicjazz."

--Nick Hutchinson - Westword, May 4 2006


Denver based electro jazz outfit hit the mark with their debut album.

Jazz is a tricky subject, a love it or hate it proposition. After years of
dilution from cut rate lounge tinklers, syrupy and sad sax solos on the lite jazz tip, and a further push towards ''psychedelic'' predictable jam action, the genre seems to have lost a lot of its focus. Which of course is a cerebral manifestation of the core emotion, a heady presentation of a root ideal.

This is what the debut album "Great Unseen", from Denver based jazz meisters The Sputter, manages to loosely reassemble. Even the title
alludes to the fact that jazz is still just over most people''s horizons.
Its fourteen tracks seem to scream the statement that jazz is back and in fact never left. Compositionally, the album is upbeat and textural. David Kurtz''s drum arrangements are flowy and dynamic, a counterpoint to Jonathan Rakstang''s driving, rhythmically accurate bass line punches.
Above all this floats the virtuoso keymanship of Jon Wirtz, at times
lighthearted and fanciful, at times hard and obtrusive in the overall
composition.

The album goes about its meanderings in a thoughtful way, with odd, abstract interludes joining many of the songs together. From the languid
one-two drone of "Sloth Fight" to the final, title track which slowly
swirls its jazz and winds up in a very direct, rock sounding movement, this album is a heady representation of the core. Fortunately, The Sputter
manages all this with an air of excitement and fun.

The production value of "Great Unseen", while certainly not exceptional,does have an engaging raw quality to it. One senses that this album was put together in one take per song or so, which may in fact be a testament to these players'' abilities.

The Sputter will be celebrating the release of "Great Unseen" on Thursday, March 9th at Dulcinea''s 100th Monkey in Denver. - Colorado Jam Scene (coloradojamscene.com)


"Hey Everybody, Its The Sputter."
By: Lisa Gedgaudas. Interview with David Kurtz, drummer of The Sputter.
1. So as you are a classically trained/self taught musicians, music has been a big part of your lives for a long time. By way of an introduction, can you tell us about the beginnings of The The Sputter?.
1. One might say that The Sputter had fanciful beginnings. I would beg to differ. Jonathan Rakstang (bass) and I met during a month-long drinking binge at an after hours joint in downtown Denver. I broke up a fight between him and a sewer badger that kept trying to key his brand new Escalade, and pissed all over his rims. Months later I found out that he was talented. I discovered Jon Wirtz on the banks of Cherry Creek with a brick and a bungie chord attempting to capture a Denver grizzly. I gave him a snowcone and he followed me to Pablo's Coffee shop, where we talked for hours. I soon realized his advancements in the skill of piano when he uttered the entire alphabet in reverse. We met Joshua Trinidad at the mall last summer, selling shoes to minors. His joy of the day came when he would replace one sneaker with a smaller one after the customer had already payed for them. He soon had to quit because of all the underage advancements from girls...and guys. Also, they wouldn't let him keep his chainsaw collection there anymore. And thats when he joined the band. The fact that he played Trumpet was an added bonus to his addition. The Sputter has been gracing Denver and the surrounding areas with its presence since 2005.

2.The Sputter CD entitled "___________" was released on ___________. Let's talk a bit about that. In your humble opinion, what is the best thing about the album?
2."Great Unseen," released January, 2006, and was our response to what we thought was this musical void, not only within the jazz genre, but within music as a whole. The music world is like a giant turtle cake, where the shell is all icing, leaving very little substance to the rest of the cake. So, you have to dig for it, and when you do, you get icing all over your hands and feet. It can be very unpleasant at times, but its well worth it, when you reach those little bits of cakie goodness, that are equal parts, sweetness and cooked or uncooked batter. Anyway, from just looking at the turtle cake, one might think that its all icing, but there are some parts on the inside that you can't see and man, do they taste great!

3. Any other CDs in the works? When will the CD be released
3. We are currently weighing our studio options for the next album, but rest assured, it should be out sometime this some. In fact we are hoping to complete two at the same time. One experimental, and one more straight ahead. Both destined to make you quiver.

4. Tell me more about the genre of the music. It's Jazz by nature but it's more than that…
4. We used to call it electrocosmicjazz, but we feel its much more important and mystifying than that now days. So I guess we are open to suggestions. The improvisational nature of our music has lumped us into the jam genre at times in the past, but since this genre has become over saturated with second rate Grateful Dead wanna-bes, rock/bluegrass fusionists, blues/rock recycleables, hipified turntableists, and those that hang themselves with one-chord jams that last way too long and never go anywhere, we prefer to stray from that group. If it must be placed with specifics, some have compared it Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, E.S.T., The Bad Plus, and Medeski Martin & Wood. While we thoroughly enjoy these bands and appreciate them for moving jazz forward, we draw our influences from deeper roots as well, such as Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Thelonious Monk, Max Roach, Brad Mehldau, Sun Ra, Ron Miles, John Zorn. Even acts like Radiohead, the Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Tom Waits have played a big part in our musical journeys. Please don't take this the wrong way, though. WE love all kinds of music.

5. Any other noteworthy tributes you have in your music?
5. We have one track called "Renfield," which is somewhat of a tribute to Tom Waits and is named after his character in Dracula (on the album). We have a newer track entitled "Cieri," which is a tribute to Dave Cieri, the great piano player, who used to dominate the weeks and weekends at Dulcineas during its early stages.

6. Is the a talk about a Sputter movie in the works?
6. I can't believe the word has already gotten out about the motion picture event. Its set to come out summer 2010, but we are selling advance tickets at our shows. We are working with Lucas Arts right now for all the CG stuffing, because there is no way that our friends will be able to portray themselves.

7. Who would be the perfect person to play each of your characters?
7. The part of Jon Wirtz will be played by Nick Nolte. The part of David Kurtz will be played by Zach Galifianakis since everyone says I look like him anyway. I wonder if Wesley Snipes is available though - Colorado Music Buzz


Joshua Trinidad has a handle on jazz. As host of the Thursday-night Jazz Odyssey show on KUVO, the guy regularly gives spins to cats like David Murray, Matthew Shipp and the Bad Plus. The inventive trumpeter and his Sputter bandmate, drummer David Kurtz, have teamed up as Cougar Legs to host Monday-night jam sessions at the Meadowlark, in which like-minded players come down to improvise together. Monk and Dizzy once turned Minton's Playhouse on New York's 52nd Street into a bebop laboratory, and the Meadowlark just might be the Denver equivalent. It's the type of place where cats who've never met can vibe off each other in an exploratory setting. The jam has grown by word of mouth over the past few months, even attracting non-jazz-centric players. - WESTWORD 2007


The Scene: The Meadowlark is a small bar at the corner of 27th and Larimer, just North of downtown. It is about a year old and, with it's location just around the corner from The Larimer Lounge, has been growing rapidly. This is a bar that could have done just as well as a hole in the wall bar that offered an alternative to The Larimer, but they have taken it upon themselves to create a completely seperate identity.

While the bar was full for most of the night it was never packed to the point where you couldn't get to the beautiful cherry bar to order a drink. A mix of preppy and hipster 20 and 30 somethings milled around talking, drinking and listening to the band. The owner, a humble good natured iron worker from North Dakota, clearly takes pride in his bar and was there till nearly closing, helping out and chatting with his customers.

The Meadowlark has always offered some kind of live entertainment each night of the week, but until recently it was largely DJs. Recently, bartender and talent buyer, Tory Baker has started bring live bands to the cozy confines of the basement bar. If The Sputter are any indication of the kind of bands that they are booking regularly I will definately head back up there for a chill night of jazz at a neighboorhood bar. This is just the scene I wasn't sure I was going to be able to find in this town.

The Sputter: Listing influences like E.S.T., Medeski Martin and Wood, Jacob Fred Jazz Odesey and Radiohead The Sputter are a four piece experimental Jazz combo who rely largely on improvisation to flesh out their sets. Throughout the evening the bassist Jonathan Rakstang switched between upright and electric bass while Dave Kurtz kept time on a minimal drum kit and the nimble fingers Jon Wirtz danced on his keyboard. Recently this band expanded from a trio to a quartet with addition of Trumpeter Joshua Trinidad. Altogether the group is clean while not always perfect. They are a young band and, like any improv based collective, will take time to mature. That being said, their sound is inviting and offers the listener the option of lush background music or an active listening experience. At moments they will grab your attention as they build to the climax of a song but largely they seemed content to dominate the vibe in the room.

Their three set performance started about 9:15 and lasted until shortly before 1:30, an impressive display from a band that has been together only 2 and a half years. Between sets the band members were sharing conversation and beers with friends and strangers alike in the audience cultivating an air of community in the small venue.

While most of the tunes they played throughout the evening were not immediately recognizable to me, my friend Jay noticed that they opened their second set with an instrumental version of Radiohead's Motion Picture Soundtrack. They stuck to the original for the first few minutes before steering off into a very solid jam that eventually wrapped back around and finished off with the main theme.

Who knows if The Sputter are headed for greatness, but if they stay together and mature as a band they may just break out of the Colorado Jazz scene and into bigger markets. For now they are a treat to listen to in small bars like the Meadowlark right here in Denver. - Listen Up Denver!


http://denversyntax.com/music/sputter/sputter.html

{the sputter}

I don’t consider myself a jazz aficionado, nor do I even consider myself a music critic. I am, alas, just a man that has always looked at music as a drug. One that I cannot get enough of. And I have spent most of my adult life trying to reconcile the dollars and time allotted to this addiction. In this, I have tried, ardently to answer the question of: Why is music so appealing? Why is it my drug of choice?

To answer this I have mulled-over issues of rhythm, and in the end, of melody and dynamics. For me, whatever genre – whatever style, for me it is always about melody and dynamics.

Enter, The Sputter.

On the jazz continuum, I have found only a mild satisfaction for my quest of finding solid melody lines woven into an intriguing dynamic. In the end, I can probably name the acts I truly enjoy on one hand. However, sitting in front of The Sputter and I felt as though I had found an act that met my criterion.

A Denver-based jazz ensemble, The Sputter is comprised of Jon Wirtz (keyboard, effects, air synth, piano, organ), David Kurtz (drums, samples, percussion), Jonathan Rakstang (upright bass), Joshua Trinidad (trumpet, effects). And no, they are not your ordinary jazz act. All accomplished musicians – their aptitude in walking that fine line of experimentation is most developed.

With their album, Great Unseen, The Sputter (out on Bocumast Records) is beginning to make waves. With most of their roster playing in other acts (Kurtz in Astrophagus and Wirtz in Tiny Television) The Sputter could feel like a side-project. But with their melodic sensibilities and accomplished musicianship, they are a tight and solid act that can captivate an entire room.

Covering pieces by Radiohead and Beck, the band is keeping its paw on the element of progression. And we know that if jazz is anything, it is about the movement forward – rocking back into the touchstones of yesteryear. In this, The Sputter is a revelation.

Or, as their website proclaims, “a magnificent, ardent elation.” - Syntax


Discography

"Great Unseen" LP on Bocumast Records (available on iTunes)
Untitled EP on Bocumast Records (now receiving radio play almost daily)
New full length album to be finished early fall 2007.

Photos

Bio

Nominated for Best Jazz Act (WESTWORD 2006), The Sputter has been gracing Colorado with its unique sound for over four years now.

The Sputter's growth over the last year has included a stint of shows with the internationally touring act, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey and a recent event with Particle at Cervantes Masterpiece Theater in Denver. The Sputter is represented by Bocumast Records.

The Sputter and/or members have shared stages with:
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey
Particle
Drums & Tuba
Liquid Soul
Ekoostik Hookah
Born in the Flood
Aqueduct
Snowden
Dressy Bessy
The Ills
Crystal Skulls
Antlerand
Metal Hearts
Ron Miles
The Elected
Fred Hess
Astrophagus
D Numbers
Dan Bern
Cocktail Revolution
3 Peas
Red Cloud West
Thee Loyal Bastards
The Devil Created Dinosaurs
Members of the Village Vanguard Orchestra
and countless others...

Members have studied under Art Lande, Ron Miles, Hugh Ragin, Dave Cieri, and Bruce Roberts.

http://www.thesputter.com
http://www.myspace.com/thesputter
(for faster updates)