Texas Platter

Phases and Stages


Aural Karate (Butter Vat) Jazz is forever misconceived as unapproachable, far removed from mainstream popular music. Yet jazz has always kept its ear to the street, having already achieved a goodly amount of equity in hip-hop, electronica, and DJ culture, often with surprising results. For drummer Brannen Temple and his increasingly confident local jazz ensemble Blaze, the leap between genres is an easy one. By now, their fresh sound is well on the funky side of the spectrum, and with the addition of NickNack on turntables and various sonic effects, their third album is a blast. While Temple, long one of Austin's best drummers, keeps things firmly in the pocket, trumpeter Ephraim Owens and saxist Michael Malone man the frontline with some terrific playing, soulful and deeply satisfying. They, along with bassist Marc Miller, provide the basic ingredients upon which the intertwining effects shine like brass. Not every tune employs electronic gadgetry; two effective cross-cultural collaborations find the earthy sounds of tabla on "Sultan Williams" and sweet pedal steel guitar on the ballad "Septeletwan," both instruments dancing intimately with Owens and Malone. Likewise, former pianist Steven Snyder augments the relaxed, late-night ambience of "The Invisible." A fixture on the local jazz scene, Blaze has evolved remarkably over the course of three releases. With Aural Karate, they've taken a giant step forward with a sound as hip as now.


Blaze plays Threadgill's World HQ on Friday, Aug. 1, at 8pm.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Fall Platters
Jeff Lofton
Jericho (Record Review)

Michael Toland, Nov. 29, 2019

Texas Platters
Golden Dawn Arkestra
Darkness Falls on the Edge of Time (Record Review)

Rick Weaver, Sept. 20, 2019

More by Jay Trachtenberg
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re listening to

April 16, 2021

Top Books of 2020 That Struck a Literary or Musical Chord
Top Books of 2020 That Struck a Literary or Musical Chord
A writer's fictional joyride, a rock & roll memoir, and jazz fairy tales are books that sang this year

Dec. 18, 2020



One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle