"Clearly some of the most ambitious and compelling sounds I’ve ever encountered in the past 40 years."
— Juan Rodriguez, Montreal Gazette
A rising bandleader on the New York jazz scene, Darcy James Argue directs Secret Society, a dynamic 18-piece band featuring his original works. The group includes fiery soloists like trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, saxophonist Erica vonKleist, and trombonist Ryan Keberle. Secret Society is a cutting-edge group, in the lineage of the Maria Schneider Orchestra and the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, but also evoking the cinematic sweep of indie bands like Tortoise and TV On The Radio, and the rogue spirit of DIY new music groups like Anti-Social Music. Secret Society have performed at a variety of NYC venues including the Jazz Gallery, Makor, Union Hall, Flux Factory, the Bowery Poetry Club, and the late CBGB.
In January 2008, Argue led the band’s Canadian splinter cell, Secret Society North, in a tour which included a showcase at the prestigious IAJE Conference and performances in Montreal and Toronto. In October of 2006, he made his European debut, leading the Cologne Contemporary Jazz Orchestra in a concert of his music at the jazz.cologne festival. He is also a founding member of the New York composers’ federation Pulse, who have presented projects featuring John Abercrombie, John McNeil, and Pete McCann. The Los Angeles-based Symphonic Jazz Orchestra commissioned and premiered The Golden Age and recently recorded the work. Last year, Argue was selected for the Brooklyn Philharmonic Composer Mentorship Program, and composed Dean St. for the orchestra. His Body Double, for string quartet and tapan, will be premiered this April at the Music Off The Walls series at the Brooklyn Museum. He created the arrangements for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s concerts with jazz-soul songstress Lizz Wright, alt-country artist Shelby Lynne, and the Klezmer Conservatory Band.
Argue’s awards include the BMI Charlie Parker Composition Prize/Manny Albam Commission, the SOCAN Award for Composition, the DownBeat Student Music Award, and grants from Meet The Composer, the American Music Center, and the Canada Council for the Arts.
In addition to his own groups, Argue’s music has been performed by the BMI New York Jazz Orchestra, the Eastman New Jazz Ensemble, the University of North Texas Jazz Repertory Ensemble, the NEC Jazz Composers’ Orchestra, the McGill Jazz Orchestra, and others.