Album art for the JuJu Exchange's The Eternal Boombox. Credit: Courtesy the Artist

In a recent interview with the Yale Center for Faith & Culture’s podcast For the Life of the World, pianist Julian Reid described the way mourning informed the thematic underpinnings of The Eternal Boombox, a new self-released EP by his Chicago-based band, the JuJu Exchange. The members of this jazz combo also draw upon their experiences outside jazz: Reid is assistant music director for Kelley Chapel United Methodist Church in Decatur, Georgia; his drummer brother, Everett, studied jazz and performing arts technology at the University of Michigan; and producer and trumpeter Nico Segal is a crucial member of Chance the Rapper’s band, the Social Experiment. Each of the five songs on The Eternal Boombox corresponds with a stage of grief from the Kübler-Ross model: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The second track, “Avalanche,” is definitely the “anger” track, with ice-sheet synth melodies and a rush of crunching electronic percussion fit for drum ’n’ bass. As Reid told For the Life of the World, “Music cultivates in me—and cultivates in my colleagues—a sensibility of having a sense of self and being connected to a greater whole.” That sensibility guides the JuJu Exchange as they blend genres throughout The Eternal Boombox, and it propels them through the darkest shades of grief. On the fourth track, “And So On . . . ,” they evoke depression with a small symphony, and Reid’s flamboyant gospel-flecked piano pierces a despondent string passage like a sunbeam cutting through fog.   v