For Andrew Kunz, Siren Solstice is more than just a passion project, it is also a way for him to help shine the spotlight on some of the area’s great musicians. “I’ve lived in Santa Cruz for about four years and have come to realize how many really awesome, talented people there are here,” says the pianist. “I figured it would be amazing to collaborate with [some of them], utilize and showcase everybody’s talents, and highlight what they’re all about.” The psychedelic jazz fusion band released its self-titled debut EP in August, and its penchant for hypnotic repetition one minute and improvisation the next is a treat.
“Sierra Monarchs” has a warm, straight-ahead jazz feel in parts, but is also marked by slightly unusual time signatures and kooky Bill Frisell-style loops, whereas “Song for Today” swings with a sexy, full sound reminiscent of the soundtrack to Out of Sight. Determined to never do the same thing twice, Kunz takes his cue from the saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter when crafting music with Siren Solstice. “He always says that what jazz means to him is ‘I dare you,’” Kunz says. “I like to have that philosophy in the back of my head. ‘I dare you to go down this avenue,’ or ‘I dare you to make this change.’” And in this regard, Kunz says that the tone and feel of a track like “Sierra Monarchs” is not what listeners can expect to hear on the band’s new album, Charybdis, set for release on Feb. 7. “[‘Sierra Monarchs’] is one I actually composed two years ago, but wasn’t actually able to record and orchestrate until just recently,” he says. “My compositional tastes have changed since then, so it definitely doesn’t reflect my current state as a musician now as much as it did a couple years ago. So it’s interesting to see how much we’ve changed since then.”
INFO: 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $5. 427-2227.