The album features de-facto band leader Isaiah Barr on alto and tenor saxophone, Austin Williamson on drums, Walter Stinson on upright bass, Spencer Murphy on electric bass, and Roy Nathanson as guest saxophone on four tracks. Though a group of New York mainstays also cross in and out of the Onyx Collective universe, often performing live with the band, including Nick Hakim, Princess Nokia, Dev Hynes (Blood Orange), Wiki (Ratking), Julian Soto and Felix Pastorius. Onyx Collective members quietly feature on a number of other artists’ records too, with Barr himself recently boasting 3 features on the new David Byrne album and making a cameo in Ibeyi’s live band for their performance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
“Lower East Suite Part Three” has a much more ominous sound than previous Onyx Collective releases, reflective of the dissonance that accompanies life in the city. After being forced out of their original practice space due to rising rent, they relocated their headquarters to Magic Gallery on Market St, located in a gritty pocket of Chinatown by the East River. “When I wrote the record I was thinking about concepts like eviction and gentrification,” explains Barr. “The record is born out of the challenges of being in New York.”