Max Jaffe, drummer/composer/vocalist of JOBS, releases his debut solo record, Giant Beat, with the evolution of the drum set in mind. Armed with a new tool called Sensory Percussion (for which Jaffe was a beta tester) developed specifically for a 21st-century drummer, Giant Beat can be looked at as a personal exploration of Jaffe’s relationship with dance music, jazz and experimental rock. The result is a collage of ambient meditations, improvised percussion outbursts, and experimental dance music. Marrying aspects of his disparate inspirations was a natural evolution for Jaffe, driven by his collaborations with DJ/Producer Chrome Sparks as well as being a founding member of experimental jazz group Elder Ones (and the aforementioned JOBS). But let’s be honest, there isn’t a musician on earth who doesn’t combine their many influences. On Giant Beat Jaffe has crafted a truly compelling prism of sonic worlds that’s both enjoyable and easily digestible, but still forward-reaching in nature and scope. Simply put, Max Jaffe has found his creative sweet spot.
Using Sensory Percussion all the time had a huge impact on how Jaffe approaches not only the drums, but music in general. There is still something very elemental about how the whole thing works, hitting things with sticks, which Jaffe has been doing since he was a kid. Except now, hitting things with sticks could control a whole world of sonics that never used to be available to percussionists, inspiring and empowering drummers to make music they never otherwise would have made. There is also a deeply personal nature to the sound worlds that have been crafted - many of the pieces on this record are based around samples given to Jaffe by friends over the years. There’s a piece Jaffe considers a duo with a close friend who recently passed, based on samples he made years ago. There are samples of people he used to be in bands with and has since lost touch with. Jaffe is collaborating with his whole community and its’ past, present, and future, composing music across distance and time.
At the same time, the rhythmic approach to these constructed sound worlds largely owes to Jaffe’s appreciation for the importance of dancing in the enjoyment of music, which was reinforced while both in Malawi, where he taught music for a time, and while touring for pop-oriented acts like Chrome Sparks and Rubblebucket. When rendered through Jaffe’s musicianship and growing technological capabilities, these rhythmic dualities seamlessly co-exist. They are merely different ways of articulating the giant beat that passes through us all.