The Bogie Band Featuring Joe Russo: The Prophets in the City


Rudi Greenberg on April 11, 2022

The Bogie Band Featuring Joe Russo: The Prophets in the City

The Bogie Band featuring Joe Russo’s debut album, The Prophets in the City does not waste any time getting going: Flutes perk up as if they’re announcing an arrival, a saxophone wails, the drums hit and the rest of the horns join in on a jubilant celebration during the title track, which unfolds in distinct movements (“Arrival, Balance, Discipline, Joy”). Multi-instrumentalist Stuart Bogie—a mainstay of the Brooklyn music scene who has lent his services to Arcade Fire, TV on the Radio, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead and, for much of his career, Afrobeat institution Antibalas—composed The Prophets in the City to showcase the collaborative spirit that has always been so core to his music. It’s a bold, boisterous and aggressive album—a potent mix of Bogie’s influences and varied playing styles: Afrobeat, acid jazz, high-school marching bands and New Orleans brass. Though horns are always at the forefront, rhythm is the key here. Bogie built the band around Russo’s thundering drums, and his aggressive, powerful playing serves as a strong backbone—the groove that keeps everyone in line. Though this is instrumental music and, thus, is open to interpretation, the song titles—“The Witnesses,” “We Organize,” “Walking With the Holy Fools,” “God in Us”— suggest some heady aspirations. “The Witnesses” and “Take Them On” are particularly heavy tracks—driven by Russo’s propulsive drumming. That’s not to say the record is not without its subtleties: “We Met Them by the Water” is a patient, almost ambient, mournful track that showcases Russo’s range as a drummer. And, after hearing him play the music of the Grateful Dead for much of the past decade, it’s also nice to hear Russo working with Bogie outside of that context, pushing his playing in a thrilling new direction.

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