Who: Alex Meltzer (bass, keyboards, synth), Barra Brown (drums, flute, keyboards)
Sounds Like: The lounge act at the annual Mensa Members Social.
For Fans Of: Zero 7, Stereolab.
The two guys in Korgy & Bass are immediately recognizable as "jazz dudes," so it's no surprise to find they don't do much that isn't musical. At the Fremont Theater, Alex Meltzer is waiting to perform with Noah Bernstein of Grammies, when his bandmate, Barra Brown, walks in, beaming with bright, glowing energy.
"Did you get contacts?" he exclaims, noticing the absence of Meltzer's token spectacles.
It's the first time they've seen one another since Barra left for a several-week stint drumming for Shook Twins, an endeavor that, coupled with the other two ensembles where he writes most of the material, make his availability scarce.
The two met at an open jam session in 2015 and discussed attempting a collaboration a little less intellectual than the traditional jazz endeavors they'd typically played in while earning hefty music degrees—Brown from Lewis and Clark, and Meltzer from Arizona State.
"It was easy to get material together," Meltzer says. "I'm always chopping up samples, and I like the idea of improvising with that. I have a jazz degree in bass, so improvising was always something I loved to do."
"We go from a song to an improvisation back to a song," Brown adds. "That's how our live show works, at least."
The eclectic pool of sampled material incorporated into their laid-back grooves ranges from snippets of Bernie Sanders speeches, automated telephone messages and audiobook passages played over breezy, chilled-out tones, all built upon Brown's foundation of ornate, stumbling percussion. It's an aesthetic you'd expect to hear in swanky restaurants and upscale watering holes, but Korgy & Bass excel in a subtlety of minimalistic strokes that allow their rotating cast of featured vocalists to take center stage, whether freestyle rapping or soulful crooning.
It's also imperative to point out that Brown is a phenomenal drummer. Not to throw shade on Meltzer, whose flair for melody evokes island-vacation naptime grooves, but anyone with drumstick callouses will immediately find an affinity for Brown's skeletal beats.
As is the case with such experienced players, the pair have already written their third effort, an EP composed of three instrumental suites they wrote via a long-distance email exchange while Brown was on the road. Their immediate plan for his next stint at home is another exercise in improvisations with various guest performers.
"The hope is to do 'Korgy & Bass featuring,'" Brown says. "We'll always feature a third person that's totally different for each show. That's what's cool about being just a duo—there are so many options to bring in other people to collaborate. Anyone we can think of who'd be good is an option."
SEE IT: Korgy & Bass play Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St., with Brown Calculus and Amenta Abioto, on Wednesday, June 28. 8:30 pm. $8. 21+.