The Urban Renewal Project
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The Urban Renewal Project

Los Angeles, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | SELF

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Jazz Hip Hop

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"Music Review — The Urban Renewal Project: Local Legend"

If you like your big band jazz seasoned with contemporary pop and hip-hop, or you prefer your pop and hip-hop flavored with big band jazz, you'll want to take some time to listen to Local Legend, the second album from the West Coast outfit, The Urban Renewal Project. Talk about your rocking big band, The Urban Renewal Project is the real thing-big band sound, at times edgy and always catchy.

Local Legend is their follow-up to their fine 2012 debut, Go Big or Go Home. Vocalist Ken Neely is gone, replaced here by Aubrey Logan a jazz songstress with a powerful voice that makes for an interesting contrast to the somewhat restrained rapping of Elmer Demond, the band's "poet-in-residence."

The new album contains nine originals by R. W. Enoch, Jr.-tunes that run the gamut from pop and soul to West African highlife and jazz, more often than not mixing genres as they go. They open with a rousing jumper, "My Own Way," a fine introduction to Logan in an up-tempo groove. She shows what she can do with a power ballad later in the set, as she blasts past the somewhat schmaltzy orchestral intro to compete with the big brass. More pop than jazz, the tune is showpiece for the singer. Her vocals on the catchy "Rooftops & Parking Lots" and the Afro grooved "Prophecy" are no less impressive. Although she is often joined on tracks by Demond, his rapping is overshadowed by her vocals.local legend

The band itself has a dynamic sound that emphasizes the fun they are having with the music. While the focus is on the vocals, there are some opportunities for solo improvisation: Satoshi Kirisawa's drums on "Redshift," Elliot Deutsch's trumpet on "We Big Tonight," Evan Mackey's trombone on "Make Like You Mean It," and Enoch's B-flat clarinet solos on "My Own Way," "Rooftops & Parking Lots" and "The Belief."

While The Urban Renewal Project may not be taking jazz to new creative frontiers aesthetically, this is a band that is likely to find a popular audience, an audience that will reinvigorate the genre. - Seattle Post-Intelligencer


"Featured Artist — The Urban Renewal Project: A Piece of the East Coast on the West Coast"

With their second release, Local Legend, on the way, The Urban Renewal Project is poised to do some pretty amazing things. The album showcases the musicality of a group that has been playing together for decades and pulls from a range of influences, from hip hop and r&b to jazz and swing. The Urban Renewal Project has the mindset of a modern-day big band with hip-hop grooves meeting a tight horn section and guest vocalists on every track of the album.

Speaking of vocals, the ones on Local Legend are pretty incredible, particularly those of singer Aubrey Logan and rapper Elmer Demond. Logan’s voice is rich and dances over the tunes with incredible range and power, while Demond has a knack for rhythm, which works well with the group. He also has a very positive mindset, which shines through in his lyrics. This definitely results in a feel-good mood, though the lyrics can sound a little cheesy at times. While I love the concept and meaning behind the lyrics, avoiding sounding cheesy seems to be one of the hardest parts of creating music that’s so positive.

It is truly amazing to see musicians who can play legitimate jazz and funk music in such a big way. Plenty of groups play hip hop with a jazz tone, but not like this. The talent and precision it takes to pull off a sound of such magnitude is beyond impressive. Here at LA Music Blog, we focus on a lot of indie music, rock, and EDM. This is an opportunity to check out something a little different that features amazing musicianship, a good groove, and a great message.

The Urban Renewal Project has two album release shows scheduled, one each in LA and New York. Check them out September 17th at Studio Bancs in Culver City and grab a copy of their album before its actual release date. Hearing the album is only part of their magic, though, so don’t miss the show! - LA Music Blog


"Ringer of the Week — The Urban Renewal Project: Local Legend"

I really didn’t think people were capable of making albums like this anymore. What you’ve got here is a mix of old school soul a la Stax Records or the Funk Brothers, some incredible vocal duets, and yet a dash and hint of hip hop styled singing by male vocalist Elmer Demond that gives you hope for a safer world.

Hard hitting horns that are bold and brassy with a funky R&B feel dominate this set. The opening “My Own Way” includes the voices of Aubrey Logan and Elmer Demond letting loose with joy and style. Who let this lady out of her cage? She’s WILD! A back beat bass that won’t let go serves as the engine for Logan’s confident and collected delivery of “Rooftops & Parking Lots” while her solo feature on “Change” is winsome and soft. If this lady has a solo album out, I GOTTA find it. WOW

Demond, meanwhile, walks the tightrope without a net underneath. His rich voice is used in the hip hop delivery as on the git down and funky “We Big Tonight” and 70s soul “The Belief” and makes the melding of styles work to satisfy and unify two divergent schools of ears and dancing feat. He makes this vocal genre sound more universal and less trendy. As for the band, Elliot Deutsch delivers a trumpet solo on “We Big Tonight” and Alexander Meyers blows his alto on “Prophecy” that make you feel like it’s a sweaty night in the Apollo. When are they coming to town?!?? - Jazz Weekly


"The Urban Renewal Project: Local Legend"

If high spirits and good humor alone could carry the day, Local Legend, the second album by the California-based Urban Renewal Project, would earn five stars for candor and commitment. The group is comprised of talented musicians (twenty-seven in all) who believe in what they are doing and give every one of the album's nine numbers their best shot. On the other hand, the music ranges from pop and rap to funk, blues, R&B, soul and hip-hop, offering little in the realm of satisfaction for those who are partial to more customary forms of big-band jazz. The URP has its own forward-leaning agenda, one that well suits its cordial persona, and within its boundaries evinces a strong and articulate voice.

Perhaps that should read "voices," as the most prominent and often-heard edicts are those of vocalist Aubrey Logan and rapper Elmer Demond who are featured, alone or in tandem, on every selection. While the lyrics, such as they are, are often opaque, Logan and Demond make up in spirit and sincerity for what may be lacking in depth and clarity. Logan is out front on "Change" (arguably her most engaging turn), Demond on "You're Beautiful," "Redshift" and "The Belief," and they share center stage on "My Own Way," "Rooftops & Parking Lots," "Make Like You Mean It," "We Big Tonight" and "Prophecy." The band, for its part, blows up a storm behind them, brash, brassy and rhythmically robust, as this music should be. While there are solos—including three by tenor saxophonist R.W. Enoch Jr., URP's de facto leader who composed every song—none rises above the level of ordinary. But inspiration, not improvisation, is what this band is about.

Enoch also wrote whatever lyrics aren't "rapped" by Demond, and as noted, they serve for the most part as window dressing for the band, even though some members of the younger generation may find them pertinent and perceptive. Speaking of which, members of that age group are the ones most likely to be drawn to and charmed by Local Legend. That is neither good nor bad, simply a fact. URP is a likable band that plays its chosen music well. It should be noted, however, that Local Legend runs for only forty-two minutes, rather brief for a late-model CD. - All About Jazz


"Critica Discografica — The Urban Renewal Project: Local Legend"

En No Solo Smooth Jazz nos encanta descubrir nuevos talentos musicales. De hecho, una de nuestras filosofías es apoyar de manera incondicional a cantantes y bandas que están iniciando su carrera artística y musical. Bueno es nombrar aquí formaciones musicales y músicos como Oriental Express, Zoé, Jonathan Frítzen, Cindy Bradley, Nils, Scott Wilkie, Andreas Varady, Jakob Elvstrom, Jeff Kearns, Torsten Goods, Kyle Wolverton o Robin Bramlett, entre muchos otros, a los que hemos apoyado de forma incondicional desde los comienzos de sus carreras musicales. Hace tan solo unos días, R.W. Enoch Jr, saxofonista y clarinetista y líder de la formación musical conocida como The Urban Renewal Project, me remitió desde Los Ángeles el álbum titulado “Local Legend”, último trabajo discográfico de la formación que él lidera. He de reconocer que, aunque había oído hablar de The Urban Renewal Project, no había tenido la oportunidad de escuchar ningún álbum de ellos. The Urban Renewal Project no es una banda al uso; es una auténtica Big Band del siglo XXI compuesta por 24 excelentes músicos. Su cuartel general se ubica en la ciudad de Los Ángeles, y desde luego The Urban Renewal Project no esta estructurada como una Big Band de estilo clásico. La banda mezcla y combina estilos musicales tan variados como el Funky, el Rock, el Jazz, el Rap, el Pop, e incluso el Reggae. La banda es acompañada vocalmente por vocalistas como el cantante Aubrey Logan o el no menos virtuoso vocalista Elmer Demond. La banda presenta su primer trabajo discográfico en el año 2.011 bajo el titulo genérico de “Stop Me”, álbum que tan solo contiene cinco composiciones y que fue publicado en formato de MP3 por el sello discográfico Catapult Records. Temas como “Party Time”, “Ideology”, “Metro Girl”, “The Fan” y “Stop Me” tuvieron una excelente acogida entre crítica y pueblo. En el año 2.012 se presentaba “Go Big Or Go Home”, segundo trabajo discográfico de la formación musical que incluía siete composiciones originales compuestas por R.W. Enoch, líder de la formación musical e igualmente contaba con la participación vocal de Elmer Demond. La nueva entrega musical de The Urban Renewal Project fue presentada el pasado mes de Septiembre bajo el titulo genérico de “Local Legend” y que contiene un total de nueve nuevas e inéditas composiciones. La banda liderada por R.W. Enoch vuelve a incursionar con éxito en terrenos del Jazz, del Funk, del Rap, del Pop e incluso del Hip-Hop. Las nueve canciones que conforman el álbum son cantadas y cuentan con la poderosa sección de metal de The Urban Renewal Project. El disco se inicia con el tema ligero titulado “My Own Way” interpretado vocalmente por Aubrey Logan y Elmer Demond. A este primer tema ligero se añaden otros como “Rooftops & Parking Lots”, “Make Like You Mean It”, “You´re Beautiful” y “The Belief”. Entre los temas movidos destacan “Redshift”, “We Big Tonight” y “Prophecy”. El disco incluye “Change”, el tema más pausado del álbum. En este punto es obligado citar a todos los músicos que componen The Urban Renewal Project y que participan en este álbum: Brian Clements (saxo, flauta), Alexander Meyers (saxo), Michael Czaja (saxo), R.W. Enoch Jr (saxo, clarinete), Matt Ballard (saxo), Max O´Leary (trompeta), Mitchell Cooper (trompeta), Elliot Deutsch (trompeta), Chris Gray (trompeta), Jeff Collins (trompeta), Lindsay McMurray (trombón), Evan Mackey (trombón), Lemar Guillary (trombón), Rhoadell Sudduth (trombón), Michael King (trombón), Andrew Lee (guitarra eléctrica), Tim Friedlander (guitarra eléctrica), Dustin Morgan (bajo), Michael McFadden (bajo), Satoshi Kirisawa (batería), Scott Spongberg (batería), Ashley Jarmack (oboe), Nancy Newman (bassoon) y Lisa McCormick (horn). El álbum es producido en The Woodshed, Lakewood, California. El ingeniero de mezcla y de grabación es Nic Chaffe, mientras que Kevin Welsh es el ingeniero de grabación y de masterización. El disco es publicado por el sello discográfico Lombardy Records. - No Solo Smooth Jazz


"The Urban Renewal Project: Local Legend"

Ist es möglich, dass die besten Jazzplatten zur Zeit die sind, denen man nicht auf den ersten Metern schon anhört, dass sie Jazz sind? Das zweite Album der kalifornischen Bigband The Urban Renewal Project beginnt zwischen Samba und Funk. Später kommen auch noch afrikanische Rhythmen, Hiphop, ein wenig Blues und jede Menge Soul dazu. Was fehlt: die akademische Bräsigkeit oder die gepflegt blasierte Langeweile, die Jazz-Festivals für mich in den letzten Jahren so vernachlässigbar gemacht haben.


Wo anfangen? Vielleicht zuerst mit Aubrey Logan, Sängerin und Posaunistin. Wenn sie beim Opener „My Own Way“ loslegt, hat sie einen sofort gefangen: Anfangs meint mein, hier eine großartige Soulsängerin zu vernehmen. Doch im Laufe des Songs zeigt sie sich auch noch als scattende Vokalartistin mit einem Tonumfang, der in den höchsten Lagen die Gläser zum Vibrieren bringt. Und überhaupt dieses Lied: Es beginnt als Mixtur aus Soul und Samba, wird zwischendurch zum Hiphop, bevor die Band dann noch alle möglichen Jazzstile in ihren Improvisationen erklingen lässt.

The Urban Renewal Project lässt keine Zweifel aufkommen: Ob Swing, ob Funkjazz, Highlife oder welche Zwischenformen auch immer: Hier wird mit einer Energie und Spielfreude musiziert, die dem Hörer keine Chance lässt, ruhig auf seinem Sitz zu bleiben und gepflegt seinen Cocktail zu nippen. Das ist Jazz zum Tanzen, nicht für akademische Debatten und Analysen. Obwohl die Gelehrten hier auch genügend zum analysieren finden würden. - Wasser-Prawda


"The Urban Renewal Project: Local Legend"

Ecco un bel disco, divertente e frizzante e che abbatte le barriere fra generi quali soul, pop, jazz, funk, hip hop. La band con la cantante jazz Aubrey Logan e Elmer Demond con il freestyle rap ha da anni un suo pubblico sulla Costa Ovest degli Stati Uniti ed è molto apprezzata nei set dal vivo. L´intero gruppo è composto da ben ventisette musicisti, ben convinti e sintonizzati su quello che fanno. Le due voci sono su testi non particolarmente profondi dal punto di vista poetico, ma fanno lo stesso divertire il pubblico mentre intorno a loro l´intera big band tira fuori un sottofondo musicale di tutto rispetto, ben mixato e con dei notevoli solisti quando chiamati in prima fila. R.W. Enoch Jr., in tre brani al sax tenore ed al clarinetto, è l´autore delle musiche e dei testi delle canzoni (per il rap invece ci ha pensato lo stesso Demond) ed appare di fatto il leader. I brani interessanti non mancano, Redshift è ben arrangiato, prima con il basso elettrico che sovrasta la big band, poi con la chitarra blues ed infine con il rapper che fa il suo intervento lasciando dopo spazio alla sezione fiati ed al basso elettrico dall´effetto particolarmente “gommoso” ed alla chitarra elettrica che chiude. Un modo di mettere insieme diversi stili, quasi il multiculturismo fatto musica. Change è un numero soul per la cantante, ma con tanto spazio per dei sottofondi orchestrali molto raffinati e We Big Tonight ci riporta in pista sulla performance ancora di Elmer Demond. The Belief chiude il disco con un intervento al sax tenore Di Enoch Jr,, da vero jazzista. Per chi apprezza questa miscela di generi si tratta di un disco interessante, arrangiato con una certa sagacia, prodotto pensando ad un pubblico abituato a questo tipo di contaminazioni. - Music Zoom


Discography

  • Local Legend (2014)
  • Go Big or Go Home (2012)
  • Stop Me EP (2011)

Photos

Bio

The Urban Renewal Project has been kicking around the Pacific Coast for four years, using the instruments of a bygone era to create a signature sound that blurs the boundaries between pop, soul, jazz and hip-hop. The band has captivated audiences coast to coast with their dynamic, danceable brand of music at venues including The House of Blues in Los Angeles & Rockwood Music Hall in New York City.

Last year, the band released its sophomore album Local Legend. The record’s nine original tracks draw from an eclectic variety of styles—including R&B, swing and West African highlife—while remaining unified by the melodic earworms and hip-shaking grooves that characterize the group’s sound. It has received critical acclaim from publications nationwide and has been described it as “a tasty romp through a panoply of city streets” and “truly amazing.” The recording has also received FM airplay on stations including L.A.’s own KPFK and Chicago’s home for jazz and blues WDCB.


Band Members