When Chris Illingworth sits down at the piano, Nick Blacka picks up his upright bass, and Rob Turner adjusts his snare drum, the Manchester trio GoGo Penguin looks like a jazz trio. But they’ll tell you that calling their music “jazz” isn’t quite accurate.
Taking musical inspiration from a long history of popular electronic music back home in England, GoGo Penguin is simply playing the music that moves them.
Skittering, propulsive drumming like a robot made human; busy fingers flying up and down the neck of the big upright bass, grooving and improvising at once; and minimalist, compelling melodies from the piano, almost floating above the rhythmic commotion. That’s their method of operation, some have described the sound as “acoustic electronica”.
In the end, the energy, the communication between players, the flexibility of each song in real time, it all feels like jazz to me. But it shouldn’t have to be categorized. This is original, fascinating modern music that’s attracting a younger audience that may not think of themselves as jazz fans.
But GoGo Penguin is also attracting longtime jazz fans looking for the evolution of the form to continue breaking new ground. KNKX is thrilled to provide them a platform to show what they can do.