Drawing from disparate styles of music may be hard, but doing it with tastefulness is even harder. Yes, it's true that The Moho Collective combines a jazz trio's sophistication, the songwriting savvy of a classic Brill Building production team, the elbow grease of the Muscle Shoals house band, and an arena-rock outfit's muscles -- the band even possesses an orchestra's penchant for epic gestures and an ethnomusicologist's drive to understand. But what stands out the most about The Moho Collective's music is how seamlessly all these sounds come together. Yes, The Moho Collective has the chops to blast the audience in a flurry of notes, but each of the band's members opts instead to make every note count. In fact, the notes they don't play say as much as the ones they do.


Perhaps unsurprisingly, all three members of The Moho Collective -- drummer Ryan Barclay, guitarist Kurt Johnson, and bassist Justin Rister -- have formal backgrounds in percussion. Where this might lead to territorial friction in other bands, Barclay, Johnson and Rister embrace each other's distinct approaches to timing and feel. Each member speaks his own rhythmic language, yet the band is able to find unspoken common ground. In the process, it weaves three dynamic layers of groove within a cohesive whole.

Additionally, as music educators Barclay, Johnson and Rister have never stopped looking at music from the perspective of students: Barclay has studied with Medeski Martin & Wood drummer Billy Martin as well as Brazilian percussion iconoclast Cyro Baptista; Rister with symphonic bassist Gaelen McCormick and percussionist Kristin Shiner-McGuire; and Johnson with Hindustani classical master Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, founder of the Ali Akbar College of Music.

If, when you envision the marriage of electrified rock and jazz, the word "fusion" immediately comes to mind, it's probably best that you think of The Moho Collective in terms culinary fusion instead. Like a team of skilled chefs, the members of The Moho Collective are always keen on making sure that any ingredient they add in a given moment doesn't intrude on the palette. As much stylistic ground as the band covers, each musical element in a Moho composition sits well with the rest. Drawing heavy inspiration from groups like Booker T. and the M.G.s, Santo & Johnny, and The Meters, The Moho Collective places as much of a premium on the art of arrangement as it does on exploration for its own sake. By staying focused in both domains, the music strikes an unparalleled balance.

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