Bobby Spellman

trumpeter, improviser, composer, educator

the Underground Society Band

There was a time, not so long ago, when nighthawks in cities throughout the nation would don their finest threads and venture into the evening, password in hand, toward the funkiest blind pig in town. The main attraction at these subterranean soirees, besides the promise of bootleg liquor and the company of society's hippest, was the music. This was a new music that knew no rules, blending popular songs with blues and the exotic sounds of Cuba and West Africa. It was a daring, freewheeling sound that blurred the lines between lowbrow party music and high art, and seemed to perfectly capture a resounding taste for anarchy and a strong sense of adventure. It was the rebel music of its day, loved by the mad ones and loathed by their parents.
What happened to this music of yesteryear and its frenzied audience? When did this "jazz" music become a rigorous intellectual exercise, and how did we forget its place as raucous party music? Well, we don't know either. With the Underground Society Band, our aim is to recapture the excitement, experimentation, and celebratory attitude at the heart of American improvised music while drawing upon the innovations  advanced for decades by the improvising avant-garde. With a brass-based instrumentation reminiscent of early jazz, the USB serves to fuse the roots of American improvised music with elements of New York funk, New England sea shanties, and sounds and rhythms from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Eastern Europe, and the West Indies. In addition to a robust and rotating collection of original compositions, the group often performs new arrangements of classics by Ellington, Monk, Mingus, Louis Armstrong, Don Cherry, the Beatles, and more. While each performance is inventive and unpredictable (even to the musicians), good times are consistently guaranteed to be had by all.