Chicago Singles Club

October 2013

Jaime Rojo

Every member of Jaime Rojo shares two very different qualities: a masterful command over their instrument, and the restraint to keep their playing powerfully minimalist. These songs merit multiple listens to appreciate the sheer density of interesting rhythms, riffs, and flourishes scattered throughout the tracks.

And yet this is a band in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts; each player contributes to an instrumental backing that forms a rhythm section in the truest sense of the word, drawing inspiration from the likes of traditional Cuban music and Afrobeat. Add character-laden dueling vocals from frontman Jim Drake and keyboardist Lilly Choi, and you’ve got an idea of what Jaime Rojo is all about. Daniel Villarreal-Carrillo’s tasteful polyrhythmic drumming calls to mind funk greats like Tony Allen and Clyde Stubblefield, interlocking with bass player Neal Neumann’s melodic riffs as Nathan Karagianis’ guitar fills the cracks in between.

Noteworthy is the fact that Jaime Rojo is a local supergroup of sorts -- for one, the band started as a side project to enable Jim to experiment with different sounds than in his other project, the 9-piece “aggressive Americana” band Elephant Gun. Daniel drums for Ami Saraiya and Dos Santos, Lilly fronts Chicken Happen, and Neal plays in Brother George. With talent coming from so many different directions, it’s no wonder the band is putting out such a unique sound.

Jaime Rojo is

Jim Drake
Guitar, Vocals
Lilly Choi
Keyboard, Vocals, Auxiliary Percussion
Daniel Villarreal-Carrillo
Neal Neumann
Nathan Karagianis
Guitar, Vocals

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Video Interview

  • Engineer Jeff Kelley
  • Video Iris Lin
  • Video Cassie Balynas
  • Photography Kerri Hacker
  • Production Assistant Kevin Claxton
  • Production Assistant Dylan Slack
  • Live Footage Amy Earl Furrow