From the Subway to the Stage

Too Many Zooz have been playing in the New York City Subway systems for the last five years. Saxophone player and frontman Leo P chats to Fest about their one-off show in Adelaide

feature (adelaide) | Read in About 3 minutes
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Too many Zooz
Published 16 Feb 2018

Too Many Zooz create a style of music which is not easily summed up. The trio – Leo P on baritone sax, Matt Doe on trumpet and the King of Sludge on percussion – combine influences to create a sound which is part jazz, part hip-hop and part ‘sludge’. The tempo is fast, the energy is high and their instrumental skills are off the charts.

“We make music which is a combination of a lot of different genres and styles that were popularised in America," says Leo P. "It was a form of music that was created via the Subway of NYC for the people and by the people.”

It wasn’t long before they were getting noticed, recorded, and uploaded. “We played there for four or five months without any real recognition but half a year to a year in we started to get an online following.” These earlier videos can still be found online, but more recent uploads include Leo P on stage at the Royal Albert Hall for the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts, aka The Proms.

“The Proms was probably my favourite performance of my life – I had a great time,” he recalls.

Leo P started learning music with his father. The clarinet was the first instrument he learned, and grew up playing alongside his father on the accordion. Then he noticed the saxophone. “John Coltrane was a huge influence for me. I thought the sax was amazing, it’s such a cool instrument.” When he picked up a saxophone, Leo P moved into jazz.

“Jazz is the only form of music where sax is the main instrument, or the front instrument, and leading the band. That was why I started learning sax,” he explains.

Struggling to work within the confines of structured teaching, he broke off and started to experiment. “I formed my own style in the Subway and kinda just did my own thing.”

Trumpet player Doe had a similar background in formal music lessons, but has a different taste in music. “Matt listens to a lot of hip-hop which definitely influences Too Many Zooz,” says Leo P. Doe and Leo P met at the Manhattan School of Music and began playing together.

The percussionist, the King of Sludge, is far more mysterious. “I know he played in a punk band for a while, but he’s pretty mysterious. Maybe he learned to play drums in Africa? I could be making that up.”

The show itself is promised to be a night to remember. “It’s a really high energy show combining DJ sets with our small ensemble. It has ups and downs, and the excitement of electronic music but the organic nature of a small jazz trio. It’s really unique and goes to a lot of different places. I’m so excited to come back to Australia.”