"Jazz is the perfect vehicle to convey revolutionary sentiments and ideas for protest. Cordoba takes that ideal in their release Break the Locks Off Everything New, a jazz fusion calling for major societal changes."
Dæv Tremblay of Can This Even Be Called Music?
Cordoba is a jazz fusion sextet from Chicago. It was born at UChicago where the three founding members (Cam Cunningham, Brianna Tong, and Zach Upton-Davis) studied under Chicago composer and improviser, Mwata Bowden. From the beginning, the band has been interested in combining jazz improvisation with the contemporary sounds of hip-hop, soul, and rock. Cam won accolades for his compositional abilities while at UChicago, receiving the Menn Prize for best composition upon graduating.
The founding trio met as musicians but grew together as activists fighting for radical change. They all continue to organize in Chicago to build a city that works for everyone where housing, education, health care, and leisure are rights for everyone regardless of race, class, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Acts of resistance permeate their lyrics and inspire their intense syncopations and modulations, evocative harmony, and soaring melodies. Cordoba takes cues from artists like Frank Zappa, Radiohead, and Esperanza Spalding who critique society while carving out their own unique sound.
After getting their feet wet with Rust in 2016, Cordoba released Consume Dream Break on May Day 2017 now with Khalyle Hagood on bass and Eric Novak on saxophone. Cordoba’s newest EP Break the Locks Off Everything New features colorful arrangements and soulful vocals clamoring for a new world. This record uses jazz to create a radical soundspace that confronts the problems of poverty, mass incarceration, gentrification, and isolation in their native Chicago. This feeling of deep dissatisfaction shows in Eric Novak’s visceral sax explosions, Brianna Tong’s smooth screams, and the bands collective improvisatory outbursts.
But this record has a hopeful side as well. Cordoba also imagines a new Chicago. A Chicago where people take back what is theirs and build new communities. The soaring horn melodies bleed optimism. The interaction between Brianna Tong’s vocal and Cam Cunningham’s guitar and the syncopated interplay between Khalyle Hagood’s bass and Zach Upton-Davis’s drums create a whole that is better than its individual parts. Break the Locks Off Everything New stays true to Cordoba’s jazz roots, but the sound in undeniable modern. And although filled with beautiful ensemble arrangements, the record still feels passionate and wild.
Cordoba was joined by Zach Bain-Selbo on keys in 2018. They released their first video for "Shut It Down" in November 2018. They are currently working on an LP due out in 2019.