By ZL Boudreaux
Last Friday, Dolo Jazz Suite played their final show in Baton Rouge. Not their last show ever, just their last in the capitol city.
“We’ve been focused on Baton Rouge for a while, and now it’s just time for a change,” said Amahl Abdul Khaliq, founder of Dolo Jazz Suite. According to Khaliq, leaving Baton Rouge’s music scene is nothing personal for the shape-shifting experimental outfit; it’s just a natural progression.
“I live in New Orleans and just want to focus more on strengthening up Dolo Jazz Suite’s presence in New Orleans,” said Khaliq.
The new policy may not make much sense to the audiophile thinking of a traditional band, because Dolo is just the opposite of that. They are an ever-evolving autonomous experiment in original electronic melody.
“Dolo Jazz Suite has a core group, locals, usually me, Ahmal, and a few other producers and we fill that out with out-of-town-acts,” said Derek Scott or PRIM8 PIMPIN, a Producer/DJ with Dolo. “It’s not a set group of people; some play more than others, but we definitely always have at least one person new who hasn’t been on a Dolo Jazz Suite before.”
Heavily influenced by the New England D.I.Y. music scene, Dolo and the solo projects of those in the core group have turned their polestar away from traditional venues. “It’s just the direction we want to go in. A lot of the music made wasn’t meant to be played in clubs or venues,” said Khaliq. “So house shows or DIY spaces just make more sense.”
Underground shows have always been a mainstay of the group, in particular for their time in Baton Rouge.
“We moved the show to Baton Rouge, and we were doing shows in like office suites,” said Scott. “It was interesting; we were literally bringing people from other places like Texas, Los Angeles, New York to play in an office suite, which was amazing to me.”
The office suite shows were an underground sensation in the local area, packing dozens of people into small spaces in office buildings after-hours; long after the suits had clocked out.”
“There were so many people in the room it felt like a sauna, and people were cramped in there sweating and still enjoying the show,” said Scott.
According to Khaliq, the venue truly makes the show. “There is less pressure from the audience. DIY spaces tend to cater to experimental music whereas a normal venue would not,” said Khaliq. “I remember playing a show in Lake Charles and being banned for the music I was playing in my set. The owners complained it was too ‘strange’ for the regular customers.”
With a strict diet of solely original music, Dolo definitely isn’t for everyone. “It’s gotta be all original, all the time, and I think that’s where the weirdness comes from,” said Scott. “People are used to a certain presentation and when you deviate from that, people see things as weird. A lot of people don’t like change.”
From Houston to Atlanta and Florida, the constant rotation of new faces and ideas from all over the country has made every Dolo Jazz Suite show a truly unique experience.
“We do a lot of left field stuff; it isn’t your typical electronic show. Sometimes it is, but sometimes it’s atmospheric drone for an hour,” said Scott, “Everyone that performs is dope. We don’t tell them, ‘We need you to perform things at a certain BPM.’ or ‘We need you to perform things in this way.’ Sometimes they’ll come on and say ‘Yeah, I wanna do a set that has a lot of drone in it.’ ‘Alright. Cool.’”
The future of Dolo Jazz Suite is unclear with the solo careers and projects of its members steadily gaining traction and notoriety. Expect more shows in New Orleans, but don’t wait to check them out—they might turn into something else altogether. Uncertainty shouldn’t be a surprise to any fan of the perpetually mutating electronic experience. Just keep your ear to the ground.