When: Sat., July 16, 8 p.m. 2016
Saturday, July 16
Louis Landry and the LL Orchestra
Since relocating to Durham from Austin five years ago, Louis Landry has occupied much of his time teaching music—that is, when he's not composing for local dance and theater groups at Duke University, Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern, and Manbites Dog Theater.
But on the new JJ vs. the Digital Whale, his fourth LP, Landry gets Biblical with a story based on the book of Jonah. With his four-piece LL Orchestra, Landry performs the album in full Saturday night at The Shed in Durham.
"I knew the story from Sunday school, but never understood that it's a common thread between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam," Landry says. "I realized that I could make a piece of art that speaks equally to audiences across those lines."
The piece is a concept record that's heavily influenced by classic rock, but with present-day twists—for example, Landry's titular whale is more of a metaphorical construct, built from and representing the digital distractions that engross us all. JJ, the story's hero, has to figure out how to escape the tech monster.
"[Producer] Scott Solter helped me get some recordings that emulate epic, early-seventies classic rock—Floyd, Yes, Zeppelin," Landry explains. "On top of that, I wanted to created something on par with a John Coltrane composition that addressed spirituality," he says.
Spirituality is an important aspect of the story—it's based on a religious parable, after all—but Landry cites his experience as a music educator as one of the significant forces behind the record. He says that the role pushed him to become more immediately accepting of anyone who wanted to learn, and that he hopes others can take home the same lessons from JJ vs. the Digital Whale.
"I hope JJ's story shows people they can save themselves from isolation, not by clinging to an old belief but by letting go and opening up to a new experience, a new connection with a human being who's different," he says. —Charlie Burnett
THE SHED, DURHAM8 p.m., $10, www.shedjazz.com