Jazz Collective C3 Sinks Its Teeth Into NYC

Connor Gatesman, Staff Writer

Named after the basement level in Third North where its members met, C3 is a budding jazz collective. The group is a musically diverse host of musicians and composers, including Kyle Brenn on percussion, Rohan Chander on keyboard, David Mayers on guitar, Dani Strigi on bass, Shyam Natarajan on tenor saxophone, Paul Hutchings on both the trumpet and flugelhorn and Zachary Voelbel on trombone and keyboard. All members are Steinhardt freshmen with the exception of Natarajan, who is a CAS freshman. While the group is jazz-focused, it defies all conventional genre and any categorization.

“We do a lot of jazz influence in our music, but there’s also a lot of hip-hop. There’s this one song we’re doing with rapper Ryan Waller,” Natarajan said.

C3’s lineup has grown organically as they’ve met fellow musicians in their various classes. The composition-focused nature of their workflow allows for effortless musical structure and progressions that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

The band draws from a wide-ranging set of musical influences that ebb and flow throughout their music.

“We’re heavily inspired by bands like Snarky Puppy,” Brenn said. “That larger, jam band sort of deal.”

Chander agreed and elaborated on the band’s hip-hop influences as well, stating that the band members’ diverse backgrounds are what make them so much fun to perform with.

“We also like a lot of old-school hip-hop like J-Dilla — that stuff’s great,” Chander said. “[The large range of influence is] probably the best part about this particular project.”

As the group responds to and intuitively riffs off each other’s ideas, it is clear how a big group could collaborate in such harmony with one another. There is no set style or mode of operation for the musical outfit, and C3 takes pride in that.

“When you have that sort of process where there’s a very open musical dialogue in terms of what we want to create, and we’re all sort of feeding off of each other’s influences and inspiring each other, it creates music that we couldn’t make alone,” Strigi said.

The band has seen a rapid rise in momentum since its first single, “Slanza,” a 16-piece orchestral epic, which they played live at their wildly successful first show at the Brooklyn Bazaar in February. The song is warm and expansive, and it shows the high degree of talent and potential the group has cultivated over the past two semesters. Riding along an unforgettable musical path that constantly careens into unexpected stylistic motifs, the tune has marked a definite jumping off point for the group both creatively and promotionally.

When describing how the recording came together, Brenn said it took the last three or four weeks of fall semester. Through contacting other musicians and booking time to rehearse at the Kimmel Center for University Life, they pieced together the full orchestration.

“We crowdfunded all the money that we used to record the tune,” Brenn said. “Once we started writing and planning to record, things started escalating really quickly from there. Our original intention had never been to become a band and start playing out, but then we realized we could turn this [project] into a whole EP, so that’s where we are now.”

C3’s upcoming EP “The Unanswered Question” will be released in late April. The group is playing at Gold Sounds April 16 and at the Bitter End May 12.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 27 print edition. 

Email Connor Gatesman at [email protected]