It has been said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture. Accordingly, describing Scrambled, the latest recording from OU (featuring Seattle avant-gardist Amy Denio as both a member and producer), is a bit like painting an omelet.
Based in Rome, OU (lit., “egg” in Sardinian) is an energetic and exciting sextet that lives – thrives, actually – at the intersection of jazz, pop, and the avant-garde. It’s music solidly rooted in composed forms and patterns but equally at home in improvisation; music that grooves, but not too predictably. Led by adept vocalist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Ersilla Prosperi, OU seems defined more by spirit than style – the kind of group that could play a jazz or punk festival but probably wouldn’t fit in entirely at either.
“Gallone Bocca Larga” juxtaposes syncopated minimalist vamps with straight-ahead swing and a skronky, odd-meter saxophone solo. The infectiously funky “S’Ou Abbattadu,” a Hammond B3/brass jam with the feel of a New Orleans street party march, contains a boisterous oratory on the virtues of scrambled vs. hard-boiled eggs. “Jengi’” at first suggests a pop-chanteuse along the lines of Yael Naim, but closes with a meditative, chant-like choral section that connotes a closing prayer.
A thoroughly enjoyable listening experience that delights and surprises at nearly every turn, Scrambled is an adventurous album that is at once challenging, accessible, danceable, and thought-provoking.