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Music review: Not your daddy’s big band

Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society played from its new album at the Regattabar Friday night
Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society played from its new album at the Regattabar Friday nightKAYANA SZYMCZAK FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

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There’s nothing conventional about Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society — from the leader’s name, to the name of the band, to the music they play. It is, ostensibly, a jazz orchestra, but at the Regattabar Friday night they offered barely a hint of jazz swing. There aren’t a lot of points of comparison. This isn’t the post-Basie swing of Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, the clamoring avant-garde of the Sun Ra Arkestra, or the shimmering Brazilian updrafts of Maria Schneider. Argue likes to assemble the traditional jazz big-band colors of brass and woodwinds, but he engages them with layers of cyclical rhythms, like the “process” minimalism of early Philip Glass and Steve Reich — although one audience member name-checked John Adams. He wasn’t wrong.

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