16 the Olympus is a friendly outfit. There’s a sense of epicness grasped for in the arch of their songs, but the effusiveness of the group seems to break through whatever gargantuan notions they may have. This seems to make sense for a group coming from San Antonio, Texas, the city with the tortilla chip on her shoulder. Yet this quintet is one of those local rare birds that can’t be overlooked when checking out the landscape. Fortunately, they just released a five song EP shat shows them off well.
This is a genial collection of songs. Nothing over the top or ostentatious, though one can tell there’s the reach for this down the line. Compositionally, these are songs with movements and sections with sweeping arcs, however, these are young players whose chops are still growing. They’re hitting all the marks smack dab in the center, and it works. It’s the center of what that makes the real difference, because these songs are indeed going to interesting places spanning jazz with touches of the psychedelic. They’re indeed a fusion band molded in the disparate genres of San Antonio.
Opener “Falco” opens with a strong rumble before it settles on its very cool ride. Centerpiece “Noble” is a journey from a bluesy ride to a hip-hop tinged bounce and back again, never losing its smoothness. This is largely in part of Nikkei Elliot’s approach to the saxophone, airily breezing throughout these songs, almost as a counterbalance to the rougher edges of Paul Byers’ guitar. By closer “Similax”, one can sense the cool factor that this band has now with the potential of where they can go.
This is a quintet making nice music. It’s a valiant first effort recording that could be a sign of something more. If anything, it’s a good signpost for a fledgling group and a good listen for the rest of us showing intrigue in the band with epic notions from the city with the same grandiose hopes. Like 16 the Olympus’ group dynamics, it all just seems to fit.
16 the Olympus’ self-titled EP is out now at their Bandcamp. They will be performing at Nextbop’s Jazz for the Masses VI at SXSW on Wednesday, March 14th at 4pm at Lazarus Brewing Co., 1902 E. 6th St., Austin, Texas.
Nikkei Elliot – Alto Saxophone
Obed Rodriguez – Keyboards
Paul Byers – Electric Guitar
Ryan Limberg – Electric Bass
Michael Segura – Drums
Nextbop Editor-in-Chief Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current.