Maintaining originality within a diverse and influential genre of music, such as jazz, is a hard enough accomplishment within itself. To actually make a mark in that genre on top of staying original is a feet. And Micah Gaugh does this flawlessly, and with class. Sonically pleasing as if recorded right to analog tape reels, “Stars Are A Harem” gives the impression of a lounge concert in a smoke filled room with all of the intimacy of a New York Jazz club. Bravo!

Micah Gaugh - Stars Are A Harem (cover)
Micah Gaugh – Stars Are A Harem (cover)

About Micah Gaugh
NYC-based jazz-inspired avant-pop artist Micah Gaugh is releasing his new album ‘Stars Are a Harem’ on May 12 via Se-lo Net Lab, which he recorded in Harlem. ‘Stars are a Harem’ is a modern day answer to Miles Davis ‘Kind of Blue’, where the music is steeped in the avant-garde tradition while being accessible to the public ear thanks to “pop” recording techniques and a softening of the harsh sounds associated with the 1960s avant-garde amidst American jazz music.

Virtually transported to the “cool jazz” of the 1950s, a deeper listen shows the words are a modern version of Cole Porter’s witty romance writing or songs popularized by Billy Holiday and Betty Carter. Inspired by Debussy, Micah Gaugh understands that the subtleties of improvised music can make as strong an impact as the frenetic tones of the avant-garde. The songs on this album are portraits about women – while not completely romantic, each composition is the soundtrack to a mind-painting focused on an experience with an individual woman.

“This is an inside/outside sound of dissidence or even rebellion, in its soft and inviting beauty, the power of love overcoming the love of power,” says Micah Gaugh.

Micah Gaugh - photo by Tono Radvanay
Micah Gaugh – photo by Tono Radvanay

Born in Panama, Micah Gaugh spent most of his adult life in the East Village, New York, leading him to many adventures through music and visual art. Other members of Micah Gaugh’s band are Kevin Shea, Henry Schroy and Leon Gruenbaum. Ahead of releasing this 13-song collection, Micah presented the first single from this album. ‘Remembering’ is a minimalistic, tranquil and spacious ballad resting on an underlying bed of jazz.

Micah Gaugh first coined the phrase “avant-pop” in 1994 to refer to music that sounds quite like pop music, but the underlying creation of the music, chords, rhythms, words, etc. are more complex than the normal methods used to create popular music. He has collaborated, live and in studio, with dozens of renowned musicians, including Lady Miss Kier of Dee-lite, John Zorn, Cecil Taylor, Bootsy Collins, Meshell Ndegeocello, Burnt Sugar, DJ Logic, Thurston Moore, Lauryn Hill, The Roots, DJ Spooky, Vernon Reid of Living Colour. He also participated in remixes by James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins) for The Sounds, Ladytron, and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, as well as being a member of groundbreaking alternative rock band Apollo Heights (now The Veldt).

Micah acted in the season five premiere of ‘Sex in the City’ and the play ‘American Book of the Dead’. He also composed the score for the ballet ‘Highrise’ and for the musical version of ‘Sweet Sweetbacks Badass Song’ with Melvin Van Peebles.

His previous albums include ‘Everything’ (2006), ‘The Blue Fairy Mermaid Princess’ (2013), and ‘Pessego do Verao’ (2016). He has written two operas: ‘Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights’ and a piece for the artist Rirkrit Taravanija featured in ‘il Postino di Tiempo’. He composed the music for and acted in the Matthew Barney film ‘Di Lama Lamina’ and engaged in the ‘Noise Mass’ choral work, commissioned by the Chiesa Rosa in Milan. Micah also paints and writes novels. His artwork has been exhibited in galleries across the USA and as far away as Brazil, France, Japan and the UK.

“Remembering offers a jazz-imbued dose of peaceful existence and pensiveness… Micah’s sax is the icing on the cake – the sweet sort that rounds out a composition, opening a portal to some other inviting and illustrious space”
– Big Takeover Magazine

“A precious pearl of avant pop and jazz, in which modern musical culture and futuristic art are intertwined to achieve excellence in regards to the amalgam and level of sound”
– Nel Muschio Magazine