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Durham, North Carolina, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Durham, North Carolina, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Jazz Instrumental


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Durham’s Zoocru offers music for everybody"

Although they’ve been a group for a while now, Durham jazz collective Zoocru have been making several big firsts lately. For starters, they released their debut album “Lucid” earlier this summer. And, now, they’re embarking on their first major, nationwide tour. Before they headed off on the road, these twentysomething musicians convened to talk about how Zoocru all began and how far they’ve come.

The group started when drummer Jonathan Curry and keyboardist Howard “Soul” Joyner were freshmen at N.C. Central University in 2009. “We met each other and we were two musicians, but we didn’t really have any other musicians our age to play with,” Curry says. The following year, they got together with bass guitarist Christian Sharp and saxophonist/keyboardist Alex Thompson, who were then freshmen at Central. Remembers Curry, “At that moment, we realized we were like-minded and have the same musical interests.”

This collegiate bond may also explain why they currently share living quarters in Durham. “Four out of five of us actually live together in the same house,” Thompson says.

Between them, Zoocru has played alongside many artists: Branford Marsalis, Christian Scott, Jon Faddis, YahZarah, even Triangle artists like jazz trumpeter Al Strong and R & B vocalist Heather Victoria. But, in these past few years, the guys have focused on making Zoocru a jazz crew worth keeping an eye on. Last year, they launched a Kickstarter page, looking to raise the $10,000 needed to make “Lucid.” (They reached their goal, and got an extra $114.) “All the musicians in the band understand that the most important thing about being a musician is, like, your connection with the people,” says Thompson, explaining the band’s decision to go the crowdfunding route. “Usually, we’ll find, in a lot of situations, different bands – their first go-to is to find some kind of record label or something or some type of company to go to and look for, you know, funding and support. But, for us, the people are first. The people are the ones that are coming out to our shows, listening to the music and stuff. So, their opinions and their contributions matter. So, the Kickstarter was the best route.”

Zoocru comes with a lot of progressive, jazz-fusion grooves on “Lucid,” which also includes appearances from Strong, rapper/spoken-word artist Dasan Ahanu and rapper Median. There is also a track titled “Redneck Interlude,” which features liberal but down-home musings from Southern YouTuber Dixon White. “We initially heard it on YouTube and took it from the YouTube video,” says guitarist Favret. “What we did was took the audio from the YouTube video and we started playing that during our live show, and we actually never intended it to be on the record. But, as the record process progressed, we decided that it was smart to contact him personally and see if he would be willing to allow us to use that audio.”

So far, the gents have made stops in Atlanta, Brooklyn and New Orleans (and will be hitting North Hollywood for a couple of shows in September). But they will be back on Saturday to perform at 9th Wonder & The Art of Cool Project’s monthly “Caramel City” show at the Pour House. No matter how far they go, Zoocru always returns to the Triangle and gives audiences the best they have to offer.

“We’re trying to transcend jazz for a new generation,” Curry says.

Thompson adds: “Our music is not just for one specific audience. Our music is for all people. We’re all about bringing people together and just accepting differences and understanding different cultures. That’s what we’re about, so our music is for everybody.”

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/music-news-reviews/article97439887.html#storylink=cpy - The News and Observer

"Five Words with Zoocrü’s Christian Sharp"

In June, four years and a world away from its youthful origins at North Carolina Central University, the Durham-based five-piece Zoocrü released Lucid, its first recorded work. The record is a complex, masterful reimagining of black American music, drawing liberally from multiple jazz styles, R&B, and hip-hop, with further-flung influences that include Radiohead. Throughout the record, the chordal shadings are subtle, the music travels in unexpected directions, and the execution is flawless. It features smooth, fusion-jazz-flavored instrumental songs, while tracks featuring spoken-word and rap elements add a vital urgency. One interlude, titled "Redneck," is a disturbing yet riveting piece that's guaranteed to elicit a visceral reaction from listeners. On the Pour House stage Saturday, in support of the similarly exploratory-minded Hot at Nights, Zoocrü will re-create its ambitious, accomplished debut. Bassist Christian Sharp, one of the group's cofounders, discussed Lucid and some of its core elements.


I think of old and new. I think of Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, those guys who were there playing with Dizzy [Gillespie]. And then there were those guys like Miles [Davis]. Miles pretty much transcends everything. We pull from the old stuff to the new hip-hop-era stuff and try to grab from different places in American music, black American music—from Dixieland to what it is now, what you want to hear on the radio. We want to make people feel good and dance too. We used to dance to jazz.


My first time noticing bass was Fred Hammond. He's one of the renowned gospel artists, and he's actually a bass player and a singer. A lot of his music is bass and drums and maybe guitar, and it's the most in-the-pocket groove you can ever think. And I think I was talking to my dad when I was hearing it. I was like, "Dad, I wanna play that." He's like, "What, guitar?" I'm like, "Naaah. That low note. Those low notes that's slappin' and stuff." I had to be eight when I noticed it. I don't know why I noticed bass, but I noticed that instrument. So many bass players run through my mind. Oteil Burbridge, James Jamerson, Nate Wood. We've got so many styles, from upright to electric. It's crazy how far electric bass has come. That instrument itself is not that old. People are still finding out things you can do with an electric bass.


I think it's the most important thing: understanding the history of music, understanding technical aspects of instruments, or your instrument in particular. It's a constant thing. It's like being a doctor: I'm practicing. Same thing with a musician. I'm practicing my instrument. I'm never gonna be the best. If you're a musician, you strive to be the best that you can be.


Somebody, I don't know who in the group, brought it. Most of us in the group are pretty active on what's going on in the community, and it just caught us all off guard. This caucasian man talking about he drinks beer and likes pork and he gets to be a racist, and now he's seen the light on everything that's going on. It's great that he's a white male talking about this. Being African-American, that's who we think would be saying the opposite. Even African-Americans don't talk like he's talking. We went back and forth—should we put this on our record? We just made a decision to go with it. We played the recording at a few of our shows for about two minutes. The people would get a little shaky and a little uncomfortable. I listen to the record and I'll still be taken aback, because it's truth, and it makes you uncomfortable. It makes everybody uncomfortable.


This place is growing. I got here in 2010. I went to N.C. Central and, that point until now, Durham and Raleigh have changed so much. It's really a great time to be here right now. There's so many doors opening, so many more spaces that you can freely express your contribution to the world. North Carolina's been getting a bad rep these days, but from the inside, it's a pretty good place to be yourself. - Indy Week


Still working on that hot first release.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Currently at a loss for words...

Band Members