Getting An Earful Of ‘Zombie Jazz’

It might be difficult for someone to take a band that describes itself as “zombie jazz” all too seriously, but Father Figures, a group composed of five friends who describe their music as just that, is a musical force with a serious and earnest mission – aiming to resurrect a dying breed of jazz musicians with its strong improvisational sounds, eclectic inspirations, and a distinct blend of fun.

“The music is a culmination of all of our influences,” explains Adam Schatz, tenor saxophonist for the group. “We all listen to a ton of different artists and styles, metal to punk to free jazz to soul to tropicalia, and all of it influences the way we compose and play in subtle ways, so that the outcome sounds completely personal, but is still drawn from our own personalities and the music we love.”

Father Figures took to the stage last Sunday at Nublu, a music venue in the East Village, as one of the many acts playing the Nublu Jazz Festival. While other jazz clubs such as the Blue Note and Smalls may garner packed houses and long lines blocked off by large, intimidating bouncers, Nublu is relatively small and there is plenty of room to avoid feeling cramped. One can also guarantee the absence of bridge and tunnelers willing to shell out on drink minimums for a night of fun in the big city.

“I always love playing there, as they are one of the few spaces for live music that actually have a built-in crowd, people who turn up ready to hear new music and drink good drinks,” Mr. Schatz said.

Pinar Karpuzoglu, the manager of Nublu, explains the club’s focus on music. “This is the second year we are hosting the festival and all musicians from around the world come,” Ms. Karpuzoglu said. “The owner of the club is a musician himself and since he opened doors eight years ago, has wanted Nublu to be a venue for musicians to play, meet people, and hang with their friends. The jazz festival is great and does just that.”

Nublu’s musical focus to promote live music, along with the reviving nature of Father’s Figures’ zombie tunes, parallel the interests of Mr. Schatz’s larger project, Search and Restore, a non-profit dedicated to building communities around jazz and creating awareness around jazz in general.

“It began as a monthly concert series I organized at the Knitting Factory in 2008 and has grown to be a website, a few festivals and shows whenever we throw them,” Mr. Schatz said. “Mostly our focus is making more people aware that the music even exists, creating video content from concerts, and devising new ways to bring the music from New York to other places that aren’t exposed to it as frequently.”

Search and Restore is also in the middle of an ambitious fundraising campaign to raise $75,000 to document the New York jazz scene. Striving to reach an aggressive fund-raising goal, running a non-profit, and playing in a litany of other music projects, where does Mr. Schatz see Father Figures going in the foreseeable future?

“We’re going into the studio to make our second album in December,” he said. “Our first record was all improvisations that we tracked to cassette tape and chopped up and reorganized, so we’ll be approaching this album in a different way, doing justice to the songs while still being creative with our improvisations and production.

“After we finish the record we’ll be playing a lot of shows and sending the record to labels. The hope is to make a bit a dent with labels that don’t focus on jazz, but rather on creative rock music, because that’s a scene that we’re really going to sound new in.”