We all know, deep down, that classifying music is a fool’s game, yet we can’t seem to stop ourselves, can we? A friend tells us, “Oh, I love this (band/composer/musical entity)” and the first thing we ask, almost in spite of ourselves, is “What do they sound like?”. We can use cool-sounding adjectives, comparisons, and variations on other descriptions we’ve heard before, but it’s really all for naught until we actually hear the music. In the case of Darcy James Argue, it’s especially easy to get hung up on classification. At first glance, it’s easy: big-band jazz. Sure, he doesn’t sound much like any big band, past or present, but there’s horns and it swings sometimes, right? But listen closer, and it’s clear that the label doesn’t quite fit. There are too many shifting time signatures, too many rock riffs, too many black clouds of atonal darkness. So it’s more like modern classical, right? After all, it’s heavily composed, without much repetition. But that doesn’t work either. Argue sits nicely in the Ellingtonian tradition of writing tunes around key soloists whose style he knows well, allowing them to improvise over his through-composed works. And hey, if you think about it, even Ellington wasn’t so easy to categorize: if you had never heard jazz or the blues before, but then heard Such Sweet Thunder, you’d probably think it sounded like Debussy with a fat backbeat. So there’s improvisation and swing and all the instruments people identify as “jazz” instruments…can’t really call it classical either. So what’s left?