Cassowary Makes a Beautiful and Radically Adventurous Debut


Photo:  Kristy Benjamin

As Thundercat is to the bass, Cassowary is to the sax. Los Angeles native Cassowary creates jazz-infused music for early mornings, lazy afternoons, and everything in between.

A childhood friend and musical collaborator of Odd Future alum Earl Sweatshirt, Cassowary aka Miles Shannon is paving his own path in music. Shannon took up the saxophone in elementary school after mistaking it for Miles Davis' trumpet; he fell in love with the instrument nonetheless. Having studied under tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III, Cassowary hit the jazz circuit in New York but quickly grew disillusioned with the local club scene there. He retreated to LA and went right back to the drawing board.

Shannon is now making his anticipated return to music with a self-titled album that pays homage to his jazz roots yet transcends the label of any one genre. He enlists the help of high school friends, drummer Sean Tavella and bassist Aidan McDonough, to flesh out his vision for Cassowary.

His debut single "Price Went Up" is a groovy synthesis of funk and R&B, in which Shannon shows off his falsetto as well as his jazz training in a captivating sax solo. The single caught the attention of Fat Possum Records (home to Al Green, Courtney Marie Andrews, and X), who quickly offered him a spot on their roster.

The song "Starlight" slightly diverges from Cassowary's signature dreamy jazz sound, infusing traces of autotune and vocal distortion reminiscent of 2010's hip-hop. The beautifully understated lofi production takes cues from fellow up-and-comer Orion Sun.

Shannon wants people to listen to Cassowary "like a musician;" his aim is to sonically challenge his listeners. He does just that on "Moth," an experimental, purely instrumental jazz tune inspired by the erratic flight of a moth. Cassowary ties the hypnotizing composition together with the suggestive croon of his sax.

In his self-titled debut, Cassowary merges hazy nights spent at Los Angeles' now defunct experimental hip-hop and electronic venue Low End Theory with New York's jazz resurgence. The result is a project that is as beautiful as it is radically adventurous.    

Listen to Cassowary below:

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