Darcy James Argue

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Darcy James Argue
Darcy James Argue 06N5508.jpg
Argue at the 2009 Moers festival
Background information
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Composer
Instruments Piano
Years active 2005–present
Labels New Amsterdam Records
Associated acts Darcy James Argue's Secret Society
Website secretsocietymusic.org

Darcy James Argue is a Vancouver-born, Brooklyn-based jazz composer and bandleader. He is best known for his work with his 18-piece ensemble, Secret Society, with which he has released two GRAMMY-nominated albums.


Argue was born in Vancouver, British Columbia,[1][2] He studied at McGill University in Montreal from 1993-1998, and in 2000 moved to the United States to study composition at New England Conservatory.,[3] where he studied with legendary jazz composer Bob Brookmeyer.[4] Following his studies at New England Conservatory, Argue moved to Brooklyn in 2003, where he now resides.

Secret Society[edit]

In 2005, Argue founded Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, an 18-piece big band. In 2009, the group released their first studio album, Infernal Machines, on New York City based indie-classical label, New Amsterdam Records. The album was widely lauded, including a GRAMMY nomination for Best Jazz Large Ensemble Album[5] and a JUNO nomination for Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year.[6] Additionally, it was recognized multiple times in the DownBeat Critics Poll,[7] and included on over 100 Best-of-the-Year Lists such as the New York Times, NPR, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, the Ottawa Citizen, and others.[8]

In 2013, Argue's Secret Society released their sophomore album, Brooklyn Babylon. This album was based on a multimedia performance co-created by visual artist Danijel Zezelj, and premiered at the BAM Next Wave Festival in November 2011. Brooklyn Babylon also earned nominations for GRAMMY[9] and JUNO Awards,[10] and earned top spots for Arranger and Big Band in the 2013 DownBeat Critics Poll.[11] It was also named Best Album of 2013 by The New Republic[12] and included in the Top 10 Albums for the 2013 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll.[13]

In addition to their two recordings, Secret Society has toured extensively, including Brazilian, European, and Canadian tours, and three appearances at the Newport Jazz Festival.


  • 2015: Doris Duke Performing Artist Award[14]
  • 2015: Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition[15]
  • 2014: GRAMMY Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for Brooklyn Babylon (nominated)
  • 2014: JUNO Award for Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year (nominated)
  • 2013: New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship Music/Sound
  • 2011: GRAMMY Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for Infernal Machines (nominated)
  • 2010: JUNO Award for Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year (nominated)
  • 2004: BMI Jazz Composers' Workshop Charlie Parker Composition Prize


Argue has also received commissions from the Fromm Music Foundation, the Jazz Gallery, the Manhattan New Music Project, the Jerome Foundation, and BAM, as well as ensembles including the Danish Radio Big Band, the Hard Rubber Orchestra, the West Point Jazz Knights, and the Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos. He is the recipient of grants and fellowships from New Music USA, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the MacDowell Colony.