Funk it up with “MMBLJZZ”

UNC D (pictured above) and Thin Thicket (shown below) performing. Photo Courtesy of Kamron Meyers

By John Ostapowicz

Three months after the album release of “F’Uncstown,” the mumble jazz, lo-fi, jazz funk and fusion artists, Unc D and Thin Thicket are back with a new pop-take on the mumble jazz genre.  

The musical duo of Dante Basista and Danny Svenson, known professionally as Unc D and Thin Thicket respectively, had a busy 2023 with numerous albums and singles releases garnering international audiences.

Photo Courtesy of Kamron Meyers.

From Tokyo to Los Angeles, the Youngstown musicians have grabbed the attention of approximately 40,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. The pair anticipates more with its scheduled release of “MMBLJZZ: WTF is MUMBLE JAZZ!?” on Sept. 29. 

With the success of the seven-song LP released June 16, “F’Uncstown,” the track has accumulated over 65,000 streams on Spotify. 

“There is power in doing what we do best, which is jazz funk,” Basista said. “When you get everyone there and kind of do what we do without having to think about it much — that is how you get a good result.” 

The duo’s latest album will add a jazz-pop approach — a newer genre in their repertoire — according to Basista. 

“It very much has that vibe where this is our closest to pop we have ever gotten for how weird we already are,” Basista said. “It’s definitely a change in the sound as it’s a more mature sound for what mumble jazz is.” 

The term “mumble jazz,” was created by Basista with the combination of Auto-Tune hip-hop mixed with jazz influences. The duo’s new album will have fewer modulated vocals and feature Basista’s natural vocal range rather than using  “chipmunk” or “monster” voice modulations, which appear in previous works.

“I wanted [“MMBLJZZ: WTF is MUMBLE JAZZ!?”] to really translate to people in the range they know as not everyone has an Auto-Tune with chipmunk on it,” Basista said. 

The album has been in the works since 2022, as the songs were created while producing the album rather than mastering previous works. The basic roots of the songs rely on an 808 drum machine. 

Svenson, the producer who adds his own creative input in Unc D’s music, is constantly working with other local groups from Youngstown such as Spirit of the Bear and the Labra Brothers. He said he’s learned a lot from his experiences and continues to grow as a musician. 

“I try to be a little better than I am in some capacity the following day,” Svenson said. 

Besides Unc D’s upcoming album, two more albums will be released by the end of the year. The first, “humans being people,” will be released Nov. 17. The final album, “Funk It! We’ll Do it Live 3,” is the third installment in Unc D’s live series and will drop Dec. 29. 

Reddit, Instagram and Spotify have played a role in attracting listeners. Radio air-play has also been a factor for Unc D’s music, as it has been played on a Minneapolis station and a private radio network in Seattle. 

“All over the world on the internet, Reddit and Spotify, you can see [mumble jazz] is getting listened to,” Basista said. “The vast majority of people listening to it do not live anywhere near where we live.” 

For live shows, Unc D and Thin Thicket utilize all aspects of a traditional jazz ensemble. Duos, trios and a big band style captivate sounds Basista and Svenson want to incorporate in their music. 

Unc D will be back in the live music scene Sept. 29 to celebrate the album’s release at Club Cafe in Pittsburgh. Unc D and Thin Thicket will return to the Mahoning Valley on Nov. 11 at Modern Methods Brewing Company in Warren. 

With new music planned every Friday, Unc D’s latest single “Cough it Up” is now streaming on Spotify.