October 29th, 2009
Art Brown (alto sax), Aaron Otheim (keyboards), Tim Carey (electric bass), and Tarik Abouzied (drums) of the group Hardcoretet play Weds night at Tula’s as part of the Earshot Jazz Festival.
Hardcoretet infuses deep grooves with plenty of heat. They had a good thing happening at Tula’s.
Hardcoretet focuses on the groove. They play funky, driving tunes that are intensely precise and warm with electricity, both literally and figuratively (their use of effects pedals allows alto saxophonist Art Brown’s gleaming tone to morph into a wavering murmur, while Tarik Abouzied’s thriving acoustic drum beats simply buzz). There is no lead instrument; the band’s voices weave in and out of each other in a swirling mix that is balanced without sounding controlled.
The Seattle-based group’s performance is a celebration of two major milestones: the release of their first full-length album,Experiments in Vibe, and their first performance at the Earshot Jazz Festival. The former represents a recorded declaration of the band’s tight, neon playing style, while the latter is a mark of the members’ continuing maturation into their hometown’s music scene (all four of them grew up in the greater Seattle area and attended Seattle universities). It’s an exciting time to be in Hardcoretet, because on top of those pieces of good news, the group is about to embark on a West Coast tour.
Here is music that flies in many different directions, but constantly pulsates around the groove, which moves in a straight line. Tim Carey pours out strong, fluid bass lines that smoothly coast over Tarik Abouzied’s dense, ecstatic carpet of percussion. Aaron Otheim’s whirling keyboard dances its way into the rhythm sometimes as acutely placed block chords, other times in wandering single notes that fall like drops of water. Art Brown spins a smooth tone into commanding, varied phrases that gently float above his fellow band mates’ playing. The band plays as a true team; the only member who might be the leader is the fifth one, the nameless one. If there is a leader, the leader is the groove.
—Nathan Buford from Earshot Jazz Festival Program guide.