Upper Structure
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Upper Structure

Band Jazz Funk


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This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Upper Structure 6 By 5 (Independent Release)"

I was tempted to wait until the NoHo>LA "Best Of" issue for this review because Upper Structure's blend of funk, jazz and rap easily make them the best new unsigned Los Angeles jazz group of the year. This 6-track is a soulful, edgy, exciting sampler of grooves, raps, soaring vocals and wonderfully tasty piano, percussion, flute, sax and trumpet. With a description like that, it should be clear that Upper
Structure's uniqueness makes them nearly impossible to understand
secondhand. If you like music at all, you owe it to yourself to hear this band. They rotate between Café
Cordiale, Temple Bar and the spud.

ˆJay Matsueda
- NoHo>LA

"UpperStructure : The Baked Potato"

The Baked Potato is home to no less than some of the best musicians in town, and Upper Structure was no disappointment. A band that is truly enjoying the music, brings a skill level that is not only interesting to the ears, but is great fun to watch. Embracing a hip hop, R&B style with a little bit of everything thrown in between, the music is a journey, with heartfelt messages. Vocalist/Rapper, Flutist, Saxophonist, Katisse Buckingham brings that "front man" persona the likes of which is both interesting and compelling, at times bordering on familiar, but more often than not unique and left of center, keeping you compelled to see what instrument or lyric comes next. Kate Higgins, vocalist, has a phenomenal voice, and not only brings that little extra texture to the tunes, but can hang even with the best of the musicianship, following note for note. I don't have the space to go into how great the band is, if you want to see some great players rip it up, check out Upperstructure! Take a second to check out "Customer Nervous," a moving tune that musically and lyrical is great fun. The band just released their debut CD at this show, which is available through the Upperstructure website. - TheLAMusicScene.com


Upper Strucutre: 6 by 5 (EP) (available upon request)
Upper Structure: DVD (available upon request)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Upper Structure was formed by a group of young veteran Los Angeles-based musicians intent on combining their many diverse musical influences into a thoughtful, cohesive, and grooving whole. Formed in late 2002 by Katisse Buckingham (saxophones, flutes, rap), Kate Higgins (lead vocal), Quinn Johnson (keyboards), Derek Frank (bass), and Joel Alpers (drums and percussion), the band began gigging in 2003 as Just Listen, and changed its name to Upper Structure in 2004. The five members all contribute as writers and co-leaders, and the band is currently augmented by trumpeter Jonathan Dane.

One of the band's strengths is its ability to blend so many styles and textures into its music. The members of Upper Structure have performed and recorded within a kaleidoscopic variety of contexts and environments - notable artists include Herbie Hancock, Dr. Dre, Christina Aguilera, Mosaic, Royal Crown Revue, Jonatha Brooke, Siedah Garrett, Steve Tyrell, Airto Moreira and Flora Purim, Andy Summers, Rita Coolidge, Brian Auger's Oblivion Express, the Stan Kenton Orchestra, Patrice Rushen, Vanessa Paradis, John Pattitucci, Larry Klein, Luis Conte, and many, many more.

The group's music - all original compositions - defies easy categorization. The initial concept for the band was "a hip hop Steely Dan", and Upper Structure does reflect that group's influence in its use of horn arrangements and its fusing of jazz and pop sensibilities, but the band also draws heavily on funk, R & B, Latin, African, and Middle Eastern music, bebop, folk, and rock.

One of the most unique elements in the group's sound is the play between Katisse's rap and Kate's vocals - these two very different voices maintain a constant dialogue within the band's music. The floating, beautiful tone of Kate's vocals are a perfect foil to Katisse's aggressive rap style, which delivers spiritually positive and forward-thinking content with hard-hitting exuberance. There is plenty of space within the band's material for muscular and intense soloing from each member, but the goal is always to serve the song first and foremost, and the players utilize solo space judiciously.

The group strives to challenge the listener's expectations while still remaining accessible, to meld the textures of Hip-Hop with the dynamics of live instruments, to infuse concise arrangements with fluid improvisation, to marry lyrical insight and musical integrity, and to provide as many colors and shades as possible within the space of each performance.

Upper Structure has been recording with legendary engineer and co-producer Tony Shepperd (Take 6, Kenny Loggins, Whitney Houston), and has been joined in the studio by session aces and longtime musical partners Lee Thornburg (trumpet) and Cassio Duarte (percussion). The band is currently performing in the Los Angeles area to enthusiastic acclaim.