IT CAME FROM THE ROCKIES.
It’s loud, and strong, and defiant, and for the last three years it’s been wreaking havoc across America, in nightclubs, dance halls and on festival stages. No one who’s encountered it has been quite the same afterwards. It’s big. It’s gigantic.
In point of fact, it’s Big Gigantic, a two–man band from Boulder that’s re–defining how house and electronica can be performed live, with a real, mouth–breathing jazz saxophone weaving effortlessly in and out of rock–solid drumbeats and brazen synthesizer loops, samples, pounding bass and otherwise hypnotic electronic dance music.
Big Gigantic returns to Savannah Dec. 1, at Live Wire Music Hall.
Dominic Lalli is the saxman – he graduated with a master’s degree in jazz at the Manhattan School of Music – and he also plays live keyboards and operates the onstage electronica from his laptop. Jeremy Salken is the six–footed drummer.
“Before I started Big Gigantic, I was playing in this band called the Motet, doing more world music, Afro–beat stuff,” explains Lalli, who writes the lion’s share of the duo’s music. “But we’d do these big sections where we’d improvise and just jam. And then we started making it more electronic–y, like house, dance–y. That started getting me into the thing.”
Denver’s Pretty Lights was experimenting with combining live playing with DJ–triggered electronica; in Boulder, the Newman Trio was marrying jazz with electronica. Lalli’s antennae went up, and his musical gears began to turn.
There’s a telepathic bond between Lalli and Salken, neither of whom is still for a second during a Big Gigantic show. The music channels jazz, funk, dubstep and hip–hop.
The sax is always out front – Lalli says he keeps it “super–dry” with minimal phasing effects.
As for his other instruments ... “I have one program running,” he explains, “and that’s what most of the DJs who are using laptops are running right now. And then I have another program for my keyboards, synths and Rhodes and all that stuff.
“So I don’t have to touch my computer, I can just navigate around and do everything I want to do – play samples and trigger this, play keyboards. That’s essentially what’s happening.”
Even so, there’s never any question that the music is live. With two heartbeats. “I have it set up so that when we’re improvising, we can really make the music move,” Lalli says. “I have loops set up, so that when it’s time I can trigger that and do different stuff within it.”
As a trained and seasoned jazz player, Lalli realizes that he’s come a long way down the electronic highway, but being so far from his real–time musical roots doesn’t phase him.
“I like to be ‘What can I learn from this?’ and see what happens,” he says. “I love all kinds of music – I studied classical music, I love classical music. A ton of jazz. My heart is really in that jazz thing, and I love that. That’s stuff that I listen to every day.
“But so is this electronic stuff. Just playing music and the whole deal, playing in front of people, or getting the creative thing. Sure I miss it to a degree, but at the same time I just love playing music so much .... I’m still playing every day. I’m getting to make music and write music. And that’s where the Big G thing comes in great, because I’m writing music all the time.”
Out in January is Nocturnal, the third Big Gigantic album.
Lalli and Salken have big plans for the New Year – bigger gear, bigger light show, bigger tour schedule, bigger everything.
“We’re going to continue to work to develop the music, and spread the word,” Lalli says. “We’re trying to take this thing as far and as high as we can. I don’t really even want to think about a limit. I just want to keep getting bigger. As big as we can.”
Where: Live Wire Music Hall, 307 W. River St.
When: At 10 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1
Artist’s website: biggigantic.net