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MP3 Upper Structure - 6 by 5

A blend of jazz, funk, hip-hop, and pop

6 MP3 Songs
HIP HOP/RAP: Alternative Hip Hop, JAZZ: Acid Jazz

Upper Structure was formed by a group of young veteran Los Angeles-based musicians intent on combining their many diverse musical influences into a thoughtful, cohesive, and grooving whole. Formed in late 2002 by Katisse Buckingham (saxophones, flutes, rap), Kate Higgins (lead vocal), Quinn Johnson (keyboards), Derek Frank (bass), and Joel Alpers (drums and percussion), the band began gigging in 2003 as Just Listen, and changed its name to Upper Structure in 2004. The five members all contribute as writers and co-leaders, and the band is currently augmented by trumpeter Jonathan Dane.

One of the band''s strengths is its ability to blend so many styles and textures into its music. The members of Upper Structure have performed and recorded within a kaleidoscopic variety of contexts and environments - notable artists include Herbie Hancock, Dr. Dre, Christina Aguilera, Mosaic, Royal Crown Revue, Jonatha Brooke, Siedah Garrett, Steve Tyrell, Airto Moreira and Flora Purim, Andy Summers, Rita Coolidge, Brian Auger''s Oblivion Express, the Stan Kenton Orchestra, Patrice Rushen, Vanessa Paradis, John Pattitucci, Larry Klein, Luis Conte, and many, many more.

The group''s music - all original compositions - defies easy categorization. The initial concept for the band was "a hip hop Steely Dan", and Upper Structure does reflect that group''s influence in its use of horn arrangements and its fusing of jazz and pop sensibilities, but the band also draws heavily on funk, R & B, Latin, African, and Middle Eastern music, bebop, folk, and rock.

One of the most unique elements in the group''s sound is the play between Katisse''s rap and Kate''s vocals - these two very different voices maintain a constant dialogue within the band''s music. The floating, beautiful tone of Kate''s vocals are a perfect foil to Katisse''s aggressive rap style, which delivers spiritually positive and forward-thinking content with hard-hitting exuberance. There is plenty of space within the band''s material for muscular and intense soloing from each member, but the goal is always to serve the song first and foremost, and the players utilize solo space judiciously.

The group strives to challenge the listener''s expectations while still remaining accessible, to meld the textures of Hip-Hop with the dynamics of live instruments, to infuse concise arrangements with fluid improvisation, to marry lyrical insight and musical integrity, and to provide as many colors and shades as possible within the space of each performance.

Upper Structure has been recording with legendary engineer and co-producer Tony Shepperd (Take 6, Kenny Loggins, Whitney Houston), and has been joined in the studio by session aces and longtime musical partners Lee Thornburg (trumpet) and Cassio Duarte (percussion). The band is currently performing in the Los Angeles area to enthusiastic acclaim.

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