Wilder Deitz's jazz/R&B band is equal parts fun and ambition. Info
Madison-based pianist and composer Wilder Deitz, along with a stellar rotating cast of collaborators, has been doing some compelling work in recent years around a nexus of funk, jazz, and hip-hop. One show this fall at Art In found Deitz playing a Fender Rhodes and providing bass lines with a Microbrute synthesizer in a quintet. The band slayed a crowd mostly composed of people who'd never seen the group before. One high point was the band's grindingly funky, unapologetically raunchy cover of Ginuwine's "Pony," led by vocalists Deja Mason and Bobbie Briggs, but Deitz and company more often push deeper into thematic and harmonic territory. On 2017's limited-edition Summer Mixtape, an eight-piece incarnation of the Wilder Deitz Group brought together elements of spoken word, breakbeat hip-hop production, New Orleans jazz, and other disparate strands, collaborating with a few local MCs along the way.
Operating in a similar spirit here is Madison-via-Minneapolis saxophonist/composer Alex Franzen, playing here to celebrate the release of his first solo album, All Of Me To You. Franzen pulls together threads of jazz, classical music, and bright, synth-streaked R&B, with Madison-based MCs including Dudu Stinks and Protege The Pro turning in solid features. In a somewhat gutsy twist, the record also served as Franzen's marriage proposal to his then girlfriend and now fiance. Madison electronic-rock outfit The Earthlings rounds out this bill. —Scott Gordon