The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

Robert Dick : Our Cells Know (Tzadik)

Using multiphonics, percussive effects, circular breathing and other extended approaches to the contrabass flute, composer/performer/improviser Robert Dick releases a mesmerizing album of improvisations, breaking new terrain by letting the largest of flutes lead his muse. ... Click to View


John Zorn : The Mockingbird (Tzadik)

John Zorn's Gnostic Trio of Bill Frisell on guitar, Carol Emanuel on harp and Kenny Wollesen on vibes and chimes, perform Zorn's compositions inspired by the classic novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" in lyrical chamber jazz of great depth and nuance. ... Click to View


Jacob Bandolin do : Great Jewish Music (Tzadik)

A tribute to Jacob do Bandolim, one of the founders of the Brazilian instrumental style choro in the 30's and 40's, in compositions from Tzadik artists Davka, Cyro Baptista, Carla Kihlstedt, Jon Madof, Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz, Ben Perowsky, Rob Burger, Jamie Saft, &c. ... Click to View


Smith Quartet with John Tilbury: Morton Feldman: Music for Piano and Strings Volume 3 [DVD-AUDIO] (Matchless)

Recorded live at the Huddersfield Festival of Contemporary Music in 2006, this is the 3rd and final volume of works by Morton Feldman performed by the Smith Quartet with John Tilbury on piano, recorded in high quality DVD audio and with extensive liner notes by Tilbury. ... Click to View


Dave Douglas High Risk: Dark Territory (Greenleaf Music)

Electronic-inspired ensemble High Risk with Dave Doublas on trumpet, Jonathan Maron on bass, Mark Guiliana on drums and Shigeto on electronics, exploring the intersection of creative improvisation and modern electronic music production in persuasively rhythmic music. ... Click to View


Universal Indians w/ Joe McPhee: Skullduggery [VINYL 2 LPs] (Clean Feed)

The free improvising trio of John Dikeman on sax, Jon Rune Strom on bass, and Tollef Ostvang on drums, invites Joe McPhee on pocket trumpet and alto sax for a release of rugged free improv using unorthodox approaches and amazing dexterity in their playing. ... Click to View


Rodrigues / Yamauchi / Santos: The Presence Of Air Particles Ignited By Memory (Creative Sources)

Temarkably detailed, slowly moving improvisation from the trio of Katsura Yamauchi on alto sax, Carlos Santos on electronics, and Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, harp and objects, a beautiful balance of acoustic and electronic sound in intensely concentrated music. ... Click to View


Johannes Nastesjo / Vasco Trilla: Ginkgo (Creative Sources)

The duo of Johannes Nastesjo on double bass and Vasco Trilla on drums and percussion, an album of extended techniques and unexpected devising, using quietly agressive techniques balanced by concentrative improv to create unexpected eruptions and unusual sonic environments. ... Click to View


Fridolin Blumer : Camping; Cafe Bar (Creative Sources)

A solid solo outing from Zurich-based double bassist Friodlin, presenting his 4-part "Camping; Cafe Bar" work, blending the jazz idiom with discursive asides and unusual techniques, plus a lovely and appropriately titled work "But Beautiful". ... Click to View


Miimo: Miimo 4 (Amorfon)

Using bass, drums, steelpan, electronics and programming, the trio of Tatsu, Norihide Saji and Amorfon label leader Yoshio Machida create a "pulse dub" album of polyrhythms and phase, producing warm, complex and embraceable music that includes a cover of Bjork's "Hyperballad". ... Click to View


Tony Marsh / Chefa Alonso: Goodbye Red Rose (2008/9) (Emanem)

During her stay in London from 2004-2008, saxophonist Chefa Alonso developed a rewarding duo with percussionist Tony Marsh of great technical and musical value, as heard on these excellent recordings from Red Rose and Ryan's Bar in London, and Matadero in Huesca, Spain. ... Click to View


Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Withdrawal (1966/7)[REISSUE] (Emanem)

Featuring the earliest published recordings of Barry Guy & Evan Parker, percussionist John Steven's presents transitional sextet and septet performances of his groundbreaking free improv group from 1966 & '67 with Trevor Watts, Paul Rutherford, Kenny Wheeler, and Derek Bailey. ... Click to View


Duck Baker : Outside (1977-83) (Emanem)

Fingerstyle guitarist Duck Baker was influenced by Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor, recording these solo original improvisations plus 2 Ornette Coleman pieces from '77-'83 in London, Torino & Calgary, plus 2 duos with guitar madman Eugene Chadbourne. ... Click to View


Kent Carter: Oratorios and Songs (2010) (Emanem)

The Riviere Ensemble led by bassist Kent Carter with Christiane Bopp (trombone), Albrecht Maurer (violin), Katrin Mickiewicz (viola) and Laura Tejeda Martin (mezzo soprano) recording original works in historic churches in France, blending classical, jazz, free improv & traditional musics. ... Click to View


Anker / Lonberg-Holm & Jackson / Serries: Two Duos [CASSETTE with download] (Astral Spirits)

Two aspects of reed & string duos, side A presents Chicago cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm with Danish/NY saxophonist Lotte Anker in 4 free improvisations of unusual technique; side B is UK saxophonist Dave Jackson & Dirk Serries on electric guitar for an extended improv live at Cafe Oto. ... Click to View


Chatoyant: Place Of Other Destination [CASSETTE w/ download] (Astral Spirits)

With members of Wolf Eyes and Volebeats, Crime and the City Solution, &c. this Detroit quartet blends acoustic and electronic instruments in spontaneous composition with a rock aesthetics, a dark fusion of sound that plays both burning improv and mysterious soundscape. ... Click to View


Black Spirituals: Black Tape [CASSETTE with download] (Astral Spirits)

The duo of Zachary James Watkins on guitar and electroncis and Marshall Trammell on drums in a dark album of distorted riffs and heavy polyrhythmic drumming, free playing that demands attention while entrancing the listener in gritty sound. ... Click to View


In Love With (Ceccaldi / Ceccaldi / Darrifourcq): Axel Erotic (BeCoq)

The French experimental jazz trio of Theo Ceccaldi (violin), Valentin Ceccaldi (cello) and Sylvain Darrifourcq (drums, percussuions, zither) in a playful release of quick paced, creative improvisations in an album of exciting and somewhat off-kilter music; superbe! ... Click to View


Louis Minus XVI : Kindergarten (BeCoq)

Joining noise rock and free jazz, the Louis Minus XVI quartet is fronted by two saxophonists--Adrien Douliez on alto and Jean Baptiste Rubin on tenor--with Maxime Petit on bass and Frederic L'homme on drums, in a balanced album of powerful and introspective compositions. ... Click to View


Bi-Ki?: Quelque Chose Au Milieu (BeCoq)

The alto sax duet of Jean-Baptiste Rubin and Sakina Abdou sculpt sound material that draws on the acoustic resources of the space within which they play, captured here in various locations in Northern France by the keen ear of saxophonist/conceptualist Jean-Luc Guionnet. ... Click to View


Michael Moser: Antiphon Stein [2 Vinyl LPs] (Edition Rz)

A site-specific sound installation in the nave and choir of Minoritenkirche in Krems/Stein that engages with the architecture and sound of this church space from composer Michael Moser working with Berndt Thurner, Klaus Lang, Hannah Schwegler and Nik Hummer. ... Click to View


Ghedalia Tazartes : 5 Rimbaud 1 Verlaine [VINYL 10-inch] (Holidays Records)

A 10" vinyl reissue of outside artist Ghedalia Tazartes' tribute to the poetry of Rimbaud and Verlaine, reinterpreting six small poems through a variety of genres that are playful and profound, previously available only in a small mini CD edition on the Jardin au Fou label. ... Click to View


Peter Brotzmann / William Parker / Hamid Drake: Song Sentimentale (Otoroku)

One of a dual CD/LP release documenting three nights at London's Cafe Oto by the trio of Peter Brotzmann on reeds, William Parker on double bass, guembri, shakuhachi, and shenai, and Hamid Drake on drums, an incredible display of improvised music from three masters of the form. ... Click to View


Peter Brotzmann / William Parker / Hamid Drake: Song Sentimentale [VINYL] (Otoroku)

One of a dual CD/LP release documenting three nights at London's Cafe Oto by the trio of Peter Brotzmann on reeds, William Parker on double bass, guembri, shakuhachi, and shenai, and Hamid Drake on drums, an incredible display of improvised music from three masters of the form. ... Click to View


Paul Dunmall / Philip Gibbs / Ashley John Young: Now Has No Dimension (FMR)

Live recordings from the trio of Paul Dunmall on soprano and tenor sax, Philip Gibbs on guitar, and Ashley John Young on double bass, performing at Cardiff University School of Music Concert Hall in 2016, a great example of concentrative, complex and lively interplay. ... Click to View


Frode Gjerstad / Ramiro Molina: Unseen Seas (FMR)

Frode Gjerstad returned to Chile after his 2013 Trio tour to meet with guitarist Ramiro Molina, both to sample the amazing fish recipes Molina introduced him to, but more importantly, to perform live and to record these delicate and sophisticated improvisations. ... Click to View


Luis Conde / Fabiana Galante / Frode Gjerstad: Give And Take (FMR)

During multi-reedist Frode Gjerstad's tour of South America in 2015 he met with pianist Fabiana Galante and fellow reedist Luis Conde to record these excellent improvisations, all three using unusual and extended techniques to create these 8 captivating dialogs. ... Click to View


Stefan Keune / Lovens, Paul: Live 2013 (FMR)

Working together in various ensembles since the early 90s, Stefan Keune on sopranino, alto and baritone saxophone and Paul Lovens on drums and cymbals captured these three extraordinary improvisation in the studio in Brussels, Belgium and live Munich Underground in Germany. ... Click to View


Trevor Watts / Stephen Grew: Con Fluent (FMR)

Saxophonist Trevor Watts and pianist Stephen Grew improvised these pieces at a distance, Grew sending recordings of two separate solo concerts from Newcastle, which Watts improvised over resulting in these intricate and exuberant "Improvised Compositions". ... Click to View


Rob Hall / Chick Lyall: Myth (FMR)

A lyrical and sincere dialog from the Scottish duo of Rob Hall on clarinets and Chick Lyall on piano, recoreded at the chapel in St Mary's Music School in Edinburgh, blending improvisation with chamber music, free jazz, contemporary classical and folk idioms. ... Click to View


Email:



The Squid's Ear
Squidco Sales



  Fiasco in Chicago  

The 2003 Jazz Festival, and the Story that Needn't Be Told
Text and Photos by Kurt Gottschalk

Fans of challenging jazz in Chicago know that the best shows to see during the Chicago Jazz Festival aren't at the festival. The clubs light up at night, especially the Hot House and the Velvet Lounge, with after-hours jams that blow the lakefront concerts off the stage.

But the Jazz Festival has, in recent years, tried to do better by its hometown heroes. Founding members of the seminal Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians - the collective founded by Muhal Richard Abrams in 196# that has seen the likes of Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, Wadada Leo Smith and the Art Ensemble or Chicago rise from its ranks - have been booked and even honored by festival organizers. Last year, the festival introduced an "artist in residence" position, scheduling concerts and workshops with trombonist George Lewis and following that this year by giving Roscoe Mitchell the title. Recent years have also seen performances by Threadgill's Very Very Circus and a reunion of Abrams' Experimental Big Band, the group that gave birth the to AACM.

Roscoe Mitchell
Roscoe Mitchell
Mitchell presented a big band and an octet during this year's fest, and two other Chicagoans of note were given slots: Ari Brown played a soulful set of standards with brother Kirk Brown on piano, Yosef Ben Israel on bass and onetime Sun Ra drummer Avreeayl Ra behind the kit, despite the increasing rain (which, by the time McCoy Tyner's big band was to come on had chased many, including this reporter, away). Also on the bill was a "Velvet Lounge" jam and a recognition of the 50th anniversary of Chicago jazz/blues label Delmark. (Famadou Don Moye's "Sun Percussion" drum summit was sadly canceled.) In short, they've come a long way from the days when the smooth jazz label GRP was underwriting and overwhelming the schedule.

There's still room for improvement, however. Their hair-brained seating policy at the main stage doesn't allow entry to the seating area once the capacity has been counted at the door, leaving people sitting on the lawn and empty chairs up front. Why they hold a festival from Thursday through Saturday and then skip the Labor Day holiday on Monday is a mystery, and poor promotion outside the city guarantees a loss of potential tourist dollars. A new outdoor amphitheater, designed by Frank Gehry, is under construction, and may hold promise for more satisfying festivals in the future. But until then, as Howard Reich pointed out in the Chicago Tribune, "sub-par acoustics, semi-pro emcees and constant audience chatter ... are intrinsic to this jazz festival."

The runaway smash of the fest, according to a number of people with whom I spoke, was Art Ensemble founder Roscoe Mitchell's Big Band set Friday evening. Because of flight delays, however, I missed the most exciting set of the weekend trying to fly the friendly skies. I did catch a strong set by Mitchell's octet Saturday afternoon, however. The group was billed as a septet, but at the last minute a third percussionist was added (that fact whispered to the emcee by Mitchell as the band was introduced). The group was at least part Note Factory, with Craig Taborn, Gerald Cleaver, Tani Tabal and Jaribu Shahid all hopping over from Mitchell's other mid-size group. They were joined by Vincent Davis, Cory Wilkes and the excellent Chicago bassist Harrison Bankhead, making for a rhythm section of one pianist, two bassists and three drummers.

They opened with one of Mitchell's slow bops, a pure jazz piece that was almost frustrating in its refusal to ignite for minutes on end. Mitchell can (and later would) play extraordinarily fast without risking cogency, but his tenor solo here began as single, articulated notes, slowly building to runs and blurs, the mighty rhythm section simmering to a boil behind him. The piece allowed for lyrical solos by Bankhead and pianist Taborn (the former ably comped by fellow bassist Shahid) before Wilkes pushed it into a storm warning. By Mitchell's alto solo on the second piece, the rhythm sextet behind him pushing as hard as they could, the storm had erupted into a tornado. Mitchell picked up his soprano, blew two notes and signaled a drum trio before taking a soprano solo with the full band that made his previous eruption sound subdued.

Mitchell can carry two or three distinct lines at a time. His remarkable speed and control over register allow him to drop a midrange statement here, a false-fingered phrase there and a low blow between the two. It's like a Picasso solo: at once a portrait and a profile of the same subject.

Mitchell's set unfortunately overlapped with a memorial tribute to the late, great AACM trumpeter Ameen Muhammed, which probably left many devotees opting for the living over the dead (Mitchell's set at the small outdoor stage, in any event, was packed.) The afternoon sets also included a surprisingly strong solo recital by Kurt Elling's pianist and arranger Laurence Hofgood and a Cuban pretension by saxophonist Jane Bunnett that started out entertaining but quickly became uncongealed party music.

The evening held a premiere of a new group by Windy City stalwart Ken Vandermark. The Crisis Ensemble opened with a brief, serene, motionless intro before moving straight into a funky bop propelled by Jason Ajamian's electric bass. After a few minutes, the groove stopped dead for a dense duo by Kent Kessler on upright bass and cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, during which Ajamian switched to the upright as they led into a pointillistic avant blues carried by trombonist Jeb Bishop, then into an Ornettish bop led by Dave Rempis on alto sax.

The restless tentet take their name not so much from the obscure 1969 Ornette Coleman record, according to Vandermark, as the cover art for that record, which featured the Bill of Rights in flames. Vandermark drew his politics from the jazz pantheon for the set. One of the three compositions he presented was a piece called "Globe Unity," named after the big band pianist Alexander Von Schlippenbach founded in 1966 ("The sentiment is still relevant," Vandermaek said from the stage.) Here again, the namesake didn't follow the music so much as the message. The piece was a carefully sculpted suite, moving quickly, as Vandermark often does, through varying moods and ideas, and impressive piece that sounded nothing like the music of Von Schlippenbach's wild and wooly orchestra.

It could be said that with CrisisVandermark has found his soapbox. In the past, he has suffered from spreading himself too thin, often in an effort to pay tribute to previous generations. This group seemed to mold all the ground Vandermark tries to cover, from different eras of jazz history to his own compositional voice, into a strong (though hardly seamless) whole. The group included players he's worked with before (Bishop, Kessler, Rempis and drummer Tim Daisy are all in the Vandermark 5), and was supposed to feature Sun Ra alum Robert Barry on drums. (Illness unfortunately prevented Barry from participating, and he was replaced by Frank Rosaly.) Keeping a 10-piece band together in the current jazz economy is a difficult proposition, but the ever-resourceful Vandermark might, with luck, make this more than a one-night stand.

Getting into the after-hours at the Velvet Lounge - or at least getting into the main part of the club - means missing the last set of the festival proper, in Saturday's case the mechanized churnings of the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine. The room seats about 75 (Anderson would be wise to get rid of the tables, at least during the festival) and a recent spate of occupancy- and code-violation enforcement in Chicago resulted in head counts inside and a long line of people outside hoping someone might give up a bar stool. The Velvet packs as much of a punch in a few hours as the festival does all week, so it's not too tough a choice to make. Kidd Jordan and Bluiett (who's dropped the "Hamiet" from his name) were both in town to play the after-hours sets even though they weren't booked on the downtown stages.

Bluiett
Bluiett
Bassist Bankhead opened the first set at the Velvet Saturday with an unaccompanied meditation (what Chicagoans called a "naked solo" back in the day), as Hamid Drake set up his drums. Jordan joined in, keeping the mood, and Bluiett followed on wooden flute. With Drake they soon hit the fury then found the swing, Drake's syncopations keeping them in the pocket. By the time club proprietor Fred Anderson joined in on tenor, they had settled on the swing and the fury, locking into grooves when it wasn't expected and slipping out of them again almost unnoticed.

Chicago is a saxophone town. It's a town where a dozen horn players line up to play with a single rhythm section on a wobbly stage in a club with peeling paint and after the Bluiett/Jordan/Anderson/Bankhead/Drake quartet finished (and a 50-minute break) the ranks began to swell and flank the stage. Douglas Ewart, Billy Brimfield, Malachi Thompson and Mwata Bowden were among those standing offstage, adding flourishes and waiting to take the stage.

Bluiett began the second set, yelling "This is Gene Ammons country, right? Let's let this shit roll" and doing an odd, brief squeal on his baritone sax before giving up the stage to hometown saxophonist Paul Taylor with Brimfield deftly leading punctuations from the offstage horn section. Ewart took his turn on sopranino, showing that with all his excursions into pure sound, he can still play the hard way. Thompson played clear and low as Bluiett took over leading the backing horns, everything well supported by Bankhead and Drake. Fred Anderson's Velvet Lound is considered home by many jazz travelers, and on such a night it's easy to understand why. This is their community. This is theirs.



The Squid's Ear presents
reviews about releases
sold at Squidco.com
written by
independent writers.

Squidco



The Squid's Ear is the companion magazine to the online music shop Squidco !


  Copyright © 2014 Squidco. All rights reserved. Trademarks. (22189)