Local Wire


Downtown Phoenix's art scene is hard to exactly quantify in some respects, with creativity running amok across multiple genres and mediums. Hyphenates abound as musicians, DJs, painters, and other talented types collaborate and feed off each other's muses. So it's apropos that one of the art scene's more pre-eminent bands, Sonorous, is equally unquantifiable. Nominally a jazz quintet, this eccentric musical cabal's ever-changing sound ebbs and flows through realms of blues, ragtime, funk, and Latin rhythms. They're almost like the long-lost cousins to DeVotchKa, or a traveling bohemian circus of sound. Experimentalism is the norm, and many songs are born from improvisational sessions where lines between genres are blurred. One song ("Whiskey") is a tempestuously aching torch song with the lovely Lonna Kelley on vocals and a laconic burn from alto sax player Mark Stinson, while another number ("The Ghost of Mingus Mountain") flows with eerie horns and a deep Charlie Mingus-like groove courtesy of upright bassist Tato Caraveo. Fittingly enough, most Sonorous members have deep artistic pursuits outside of music, such as Caraveo (who paints stunning abstract works), or trombonist Mike Red (who creates a gonzo after-hours TV show called Television Noir).
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.