Take the L train: Former subway buskers at forefront of jazzy electronic music

Take the L train: Former subway buskers at forefront of jazzy electronic music
Photo by Robert Shaffer

These jazz musicians have turned caves into clubs.

Moon Hooch, the Brooklyn band who claim to have been banned from performing at the Bedford Avenue station on the L line for starting too many dance outbreaks, is bringing its new style of jazz, dubbed “cave music,” to the stage at Brooklyn Bowl on July 6.

Think house music performed by two saxophonists and a drummer.

“It’s a mixture of electronic concepts, improvisation, and loop-based beats,” saxophonist Wenzl McGowen said.

After meeting at the New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music and moving next door to each other, the three started busking, playing together in subway stations, and parks for money.

Playing in public places hasn’t just earned Moon Hooch cash.

Busking has also earned the band the attention of other musicians – including indie rocker and former Soul Coughing leader Mike Doughty, who invited them on his national solo tour as a supporting act immediately after he saw them perform on the street.

Despite their success, Moon Hooch is still continuing to experiment.

In some of their songs, McGown places a cardboard tube into his tenor saxophone to simulate a sound most associated with dubstep, a genre of electronic dance music that’s hugely popular.

They play a style of music that’s often composed on MacBook Pros, but saxophonist Michael Wilbur says his group’s analog approach and traditional jazz background has won them fans.

“Music today is heavily influenced by synthesizers,” saxophonist Michael Wilbur. “They pump it into our ears. Our music emulates that for those listeners, but also has jazz elements that broaden our appeal.”

Moon Hooch at Brooklyn Bowl [61 Wythe Ave., between N. 11th and N. 12th streets in Williamsburg. (718) 963–3369. www.brooklynbowl.com] July 6, 11:30 pm, $10.