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Knotty Boys

Prog-rock. Modern jazz. Either way, the time signatures are crazy complicated.

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Brothers Chris and Tony Cuda have spent the past year trying to warm local music fans to their very special mix of prog-jazz. The guitarist and bassist combine modern jazz, world music, and 1970s prog-rock. You can check it out at their Barking Spider performance tonight. “Americans take whatever comes easy, and this music is not easy to swallow,” says Chris Cuda. “If you put some of our stuff on while you’re driving down the road, you could get into a serious wreck.”

Raised in Cleveland Heights, the Cudas credit jazz guitarist Bill DeArango for introducing them to music with funky time signatures back in the ’70s, when he ran a music store in town. After he’d close the shop at night, DeArango would invite the siblings to his house and teach them how to play Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie tunes. By the 1980s, Chris was sitting in on studio sessions with local groups Beau Coup and the Dazz Band, while Tony toured New England with a fusion combo. The brothers teamed up last summer to form their own trio with 17-year-old drummer Steve Renko. They have only one rule: No covers. “They make you think, ‘I’ve heard this before,’” says Cuda. “How many times can you beat this fucking thing senseless?” Today, Cuda (the band) plays gigs from Cleveland to New York. And their prog-jazz blend is starting to catch on, says Cuda. “We can go out and play fake jazz and embarrass the hell out of ourselves. Or we can do what we really want to do.”
Sun., Sept. 23, 5:30 & 6:45 p.m., 2007

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