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Always Be Happy, but Stay Evil — Garage a Trois

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I’m not going to lie: About half the reason I wanted to hear this was because of its fantastical name.

I’ve been getting into Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey’s post-everything jazz mash-ups recently, and Garage A Trois is one step further down the rung toward true jazz. Garage A Trois is described as a “post rock/freak jazz supergroup,” and that’s something I can get into!

With saxophone, vibraphone, keys and drums, it looks like a relatively normal jazz quartet, but it’s super-not. The sax and the keys turn in nearly as dissonant turns as an electric guitar in places, and the post-rock tag is no joke. They can really pound it out when they want to (“Resentment Incubator,” “Assault on Precinct 13”). “Kansas” calls up mild Colin Stetson comparisons, and Stetson’s latest is still my frontrunner for album of the year.

Weirdness abounds as well, as in the camp-horror of “Swellage” and space-shots “Shooting Breaks” and “Thumb.” “Baby Mama Drama,” on the other hand, is both a contender for best song title of the year and a straightforward jazz composition.

Garage A Trois is exactly what they were touted to be: a really jazzy post-rock outfit. I enjoyed the latter more than the former, but the former isn’t bad at all. “Always Be Happy” is an intriguing release with some great tunes from several very talented musicians. If you like JFJO, progressive jazz or pushing your boundaries, I dare you to give this one a try. —Stephen Carradini

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