Jazz fusion is where hard rock meets hard jazz. At times gloriously aggressive or laid back with a psychedelic side, it’s a punkier and sometimes even funkier side of jazz – for jazz fans, a gateway into more experimental “rock” music like the works of Robert Fripp/King Crimson and Frank Zappa, for rock fans, the gateway to Al Di Meola or Jean-Luc Ponty.
Denver’s a large enough music scene to have players interested in pursuing an investigational side of music, with the band Dandu challenging jazz and jam-rock fans with their own brand of psychedelic sounds that stray around the jazz and psychedelic, prog-rock realm. A guitar-less outfit that at times will fool the audience into thinking it’s a guitar-heavy band, the trio made up of Sean Dandurand on bass, Ben Weirich on keyboards and Dylan Johnson on drums, will perform two nights this weekend for iAM MUSIC’s Second Weekend Series at the music school’s venue THE iNDIGO ROOM in downtown Durango. Performing with them Friday (Jan. 13) are The Quarks, and Saturday, they’ll share the bill with The Funk Express.
If you go
WHAT: Second Weekend Series at iAM MUSIC in the Indigo Room.
WHEN: Friday (Jan. 13) features Dandu with The Quarks, Saturday features Dandu with The Funk Express.
WHERE: The iNDIGO ROOM at iAM MUSIC, 1315 Main Ave. #207.
TICKETS: $10. Tickets available online at https://bit.ly/3CE2HR1.
MORE INFORMATION: Visit www.iammusic.us.
Dandurand’s foray into music started with him playing bass in his sister’s punk band. Since he’s gone down a musical path that started with bands like Tool, which opened the door to prog-heavy King Crimson, along with experimental DJ Aphex Twin and bass player Thundercat.
“It wasn’t until probably my early 20s that I really got into the fusion realm, and probably my biggest influence in that realm is John McLaughlin,” Dandurand said. “What did it for me was the first Thundercat album, Golden Age of Apocalypse. That record just blew my mind.”
In 2015, Dandurand started messing around on the recording and production of a solo project, recruited friends Weirich and Johnson for said project, and Dandu was born. They’ve hit it hard since, touring and developing a sound that compares them to the jazz-fusion greats.
“There was a three-year stint where we probably did like eight or nine tours around the country, and we’ve just been going at it for almost eight years now,” Dandurand said. “I think the best way you can describe it is a modern fusion trio, people often compare us to Mahavishnu Orchestra or Return to Forever.”
It’s the aggression of the music that pulled Dandurand in and keeps him around. Dark chords and dark sounds as part of fast tempos can at times dominate the sonic landscape, it’s what makes the music appealing to fans who may also dip into a love of punk or metal.
“The edginess is what really drew me to it,” Dandurand said. “As a child, and even today I listen to predominantly hip-hop and rap, but I think why I got into punk rock was the edginess. I loved that about hip-hop, too. And when I got into prog-music and jazz-fusion it was because of the edginess as well.”
The band has released a handful of EPs over the years, with 2023 being the year they finally drop a full-length. These Durango shows will be the first time Dandu has played since early November, with their time in Durango including teaching a master class through iAM MUSIC. As fans, supporters and players in music education, playing a show organized by a music school falls into their wheelhouse.
“It’s really cool to be put up by a promoter that’s supporting the arts,” Dandurand said. “Especially coming from Denver where there’s a lot of corporate promoters, it’s just nice to see someone who cares about the kids.”
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at email@example.com.