Darcy James Argue is a fledgling modern jazz composer and conductor whose debut effort with his Secret Society is as impressive as any of his influences and predecessors. If you enjoy the efforts of Gil Evans, Bob Brookmeyer, Carla Bley, Maria Schneider, Guillermo Klein, NOJO, or Jason Lindner's big band in modern times, you'll surely enjoy this finely crafted effort from Argue, supported by a combination of New York veterans and newcomers. The combined layering of sounds, vibrant color palate, and marvelous inventive writing makes for some startling and satisfying original music played by some very impressive musicians. This is cryptic music as the titles suggest, with some religious overtones and expansive notions, but within the underground nature of the music springs forth new ideas and a commanding perspective. "Phobos" is a good example of ancient and futuristic ideals, as a percussion intro to mysterious horns in 7/8 to 4/4 funk is lined by the snarly electric guitar of Sebastian Noelle, leading to up and down dynamics. A well-constructed horn chart on "Zeno," building from mezzo piano to forte, is accented by flutes and chattery bass or piano chords suggesting oceanic Mediterranean elements. The outstanding "Transit," with trumpet soloist Ingrid Jensen, is altogether reverent, progressive, boppish, interactive, and full of delightful layers. Where "Redeye" is similarly spiritual and peaceful, it's a calm before the storm, and "Jacobin Club" is thin and hymnal, more cautious than mellow or laid-back. The labyrinth, dark underground sound of "Habeas Corpus" continues the hushed, under-the-surface concept, while a slight 9/8 dance motif during "Obsidian Flow," enhanced by the alto sax of Erica VonKleist, implies real images of true beauty that cannot be chemically accented or treated. Jazz mavens will recognize a few names like trumpeters Jensen, Seneca Black, and Laurie Frink, pianist Mike Holober, who leads his own progressive big band, bassist Matt Clohesy, and drummer Jon Wikan. Exploring liquid and stellar regions, Argue's music is a stunning display in diversity within drawn out, developed themes, requiring a keen ear. It's an exceptional example of new jazz music that deserves a broad forum for listening and appreciating, but don't keep this secret to yourself.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos