In 2011 the members of the BJU (formed in 2006) composed new music for their first collaborative effort, the recording, A Portrait of Brooklyn. These performances marked the first time that the BJU members came together as an ensemble, and the result was praised unanimously, with Hank Shteamer of Time Out New York calling the BJU Ensemble, "a valuable collective that spotlights underrated local bandleaders", and Chris Smith adding in The Winnipeg Free Press that, "Brooklyn has a thriving jazz community, and an association of artists committed to building a greater awareness of original music coming from there - the Brooklyn Jazz Underground."
From its inception the BJU, a highly influential group that inspired the formation of other artist collectives around the world, including The Paris Jazz Underground, The Queens Jazz Overground and The LA Jazz Collective, has always placed a premium on original composition. The band's much-anticipated second recording, 7 X 7, offers a collection of seven compelling works conceived by each member of the septet, featuring David Smith (trumpet), Adam Kolker (tenor sax, bass clarinet), Anne Mette Iversen (bass), Rob Garcia (drums), and also featuring the addition of vocalist Tammy Scheffer, who plays a shifting role here as a vocalist and as a third "horn", pianist David Cook & drummer Owen Howard, empowering the ensemble alongside Rob Garcia with a dual drummer thrust.
While each piece exemplifies the character of the individual composer, the ensemble devised a cohesive element to lend unity to the entire recording: "The Shorty," a brief composition derived from each of the seven original works. The creative twist was that these variations were to be composed by a fellow BJU artist. "We literally drew names from a hat to pick which composition was to be our 'assignment.' Whether inspired by a melodic phrase, a harmonic structure or simply the vibe of the initial work, each 'Shorty' in turn, found its own character," explained Owen Howard (from the liner notes).