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Disorganizer Leads By Collaboration

The Bloomington-Normal instrumental powerhouse Disorganizer unveils its first full-length album Friday night when the quartet performs at Nightshop in downtown Bloomington.

“Dispara” is quite a step up in quantity and quality from the 4-song EP the group released a few years ago.

“Dispara is actually the Spanish word for 'to shoot,'" said bassist Ryan Nolan, opening the conversation he and saxophonist Travis Thacker had with GLT’s Jon Norton.

“It’s also a riff on ‘It Shoots, It Hits’ from the new album. I think Stefen Robinson (mandolinist) mentioned this when he talked with you a couple years ago, it’s the act of holding an arrow in a bow, but not actually going through the act of shooting, but just release the arrow.”

When asked during that 2017 conversation if Disorganizer considered itself a jazz group, he said, "Whenever I call it a jazz band I do air quotes. 'Jazz.' Because I don't even know what that means anymore. Are you talking about Miles Davis? Are you talking about Wayne Shorter? Are you talking about Kneebody?"

Nolan said the guys still struggle with the label as he listens to new groups able to split genres effortlessly.

“It’s more of a marketing thing in my opinion, and right now it’s a re-establishment of what our goals are as a band,” said Nolan. “I don’t feel like we’re on the outside when we talk about ourselves as a jazz band, but I don’t think we’re on the inside either. There are a lot of opportunities to kind of split that genre and do whatever we want and call ourselves an instrumental band.”

Where in many groups one or maybe two people are the principal songwriters, Thacker believes the fluidity of both the collaborative nature of the group’s leadership and approach to songwriting is the connective tissue that keeps members coming back for more.

“In our group there are some songs that might be somewhat fleshed out before we get to rehearsal, but then we’ll play through it a few times and everybody adds their two cents and helps form the tune into what it becomes. One of the cool dynamics of this group is that we may play a song a certain way for six months and after that say, ‘I don’t like how that song is going.’ And that’s kind of the whole mentality of this group,” said Thacker.

In just a couple short years, Disorganizer has evolved into one of the hipper groups in central Illinois. You could argue they’re close to being a house band at Nightshop. Thacker believes they’re in a ‘weird’ position as regular players in the region, but don’t want to give up their day jobs.

“Recently with places like Jazz UpFront and Nightshop opening, it’s a lot easier to get our music out there and be successful playing out locally,” said Nolan, then laughed when adding “But a log of our goals are based on making Travis’ job easier. Because he was doing a lot of the active booking and reaching out trying to get people to hear our music.”

One of the ways Thacker and the band has been reaching out is through video. He believes even a “local band” with no (current) aspirations to tour nationally needs good promotional video. Here’s one example of working with local company Nap House Studios:

“The way the video and album came out is really just a personification of what we’re trying to do with our music. And I think it’s all fitting together,” said Thacker.

Indeed. Dispara is an impressive full-length debut. The collaborative songwriting, the engineering and mixing done by Nolan and even Nathan Parks’ album cover make this album one the group is proud of.

“It’s fantastic, we’re super happy with it,” Thacker and Nolan concurred.

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Jon Norton is the audio director at WGLT and WCBU. He also is host of All Things Considered every weekday.