The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

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The Residents :
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Jaap Blonk's Retirement Overdue (w/ Petruccelli / Stadhouders / Rosaly):
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Antonin Artaud (Jaap Blonk):
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What Happens In A Year (SInton / Neufeld / Merega):
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Iannis Xenakis:
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The Thing (Gustafsson / McPhee / Haker Flaten / Nilssen-Love):
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Albert Ayler Quartet With Don Cherry:
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Joel Futterman :
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Frode Gjerstad / Fred Lonberg Holm / Steve Swell / William Parker:
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Cooper-Moore & Stephen Gauci:
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Gadt / Osborne / Zakrocki / Olak:
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The third volume in this Polish free improvising series, starting with the collaboration of violinist Patryk Zakrocki and guitarist Marcin Olak, varying the additional players as they explore chamber-oriented free improvisation, here with the impressive vocal improvisation of Anna Gadt and cellist Annemie Osborne, as they rip apart the calendar in 14 monthly machinations. ... Click to View


Przemyslaw Chmiel Quartet:
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Sun Ra And His Solar-Myth Arkestra:
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Originally issued on the BYG label as a 2 volume set, these albums present a variety of tracks from various undocumented sessions in New York and Philadelphia in the 1960s, with similar personnel in the makeup of the Arkestra during this time, here fully remastered and presented as a 2-CD set including a bonus track correcting an original mastering problem; essential Ra! ... Click to View


David Myers Lee:
That Which Is It (pulsewidth)

Using electronic and digital tools similar to those that fuel his Arcane Device project, New York sound artist David Lee Myers presents an accessibly engaging set of compositions using modular electronics, feedback matrices, guitar textures, voices, and frogs in 11 polyrhythmic adventures; quirky yet non-chaotic, sublime experimental works of tone and texture. ... Click to View


Julius Gabriel:
Geminga (Creative Sources)

Using the natural resonance of the chapel of Oficinas do Convento, in Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal, saxophonist Julius Gabriel recorded these ten diverse solo improvisations, performing on soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, applying unusual and extended techniques to his playing in a mixture of technical prowess and implicit wit & melodicism. ... Click to View


Icepick (Nate Wooley / Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten / Chris Corsano):
Hellraiser [VINYL] (Astral Spirits)

The 3rd album from the improvising trio of Nate Wooley on trumpet, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten on bass, and Chris Corsano on drums, is a live recording at the 2018 Experimental Sound Studio's Option Series, a smoldering session of collective improvisation that builds tension through impressive rhythmic texture and releases it in cathartic and passionate passages. ... Click to View


Das Rad (Archer / Robinson / Dinsdale):
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The 2nd release from the UK instrumental rock band Das Rad of Nick Robinson on guitars, keyboards & electronics, Martin Archer on woodwind, keyboards, synth bass & electronics, and Steve Dinsdale on drums, keyboards & electronics, expand their sound and referenes as they tug on the heartstrings of prog, krautrock and other advanced rock forms with modern and mellotron-fueled orchestration. ... Click to View


Kaze (Fujii / Tamura / Pruvost / Orins) w/ Ikue Mori:
Sand Storm (Libra/ Circum-Disc)

The cooperative quartet Kaze of Satoko Fujii on piano, Peter Orins on drums, Christian Pruvost on trumpet, Natsuki Tamura on trumpet, joins with elextroacoustic improviser Ikue Mori for seven exploratory pieces recorded in the studio after a one-week tour in Austria, France, and Russia, their enthusiasm for their extraordinarily unique group sound clearly evident. ... Click to View


Gato Libre (Tamura / Fjuii / Kaneko):
Koneko (Libra)

The 8th album from Gato Libre with compositions from trumpeter Natsuki Tamura in a trio with Yasuko Kaneko on trombone and pianist Satoko Fujii here on accordion, Koneko translating to "Kitten", as Tamura explores 8 new cats from strays to shop cats through deceptively simple pieces of melodic appeal of warm color, tone & texture; absolutely charming. ... Click to View


Phil Wachsmann :
Writing In Water (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

UK-based violinist Phillip Wachsmann, an essential player bringing contemporary approaches of indeterminacy, conceptualism and electroacoustics to the early community of improvisers and experimentalists, in a reissue of his 1984 Bead Records album, presenting his astute and sophisticated live solo performance for violin and electronics at the Actual Festival in July 1984, London. ... Click to View


Francesco Gregoretti :
Solid Layers, Deafening Shapes (Toxo Records)

A solo percussion album from Francesco Gregoretti, employing traditional instruments and unusual object to create unique audio environment that use predictable rhythmic elements against capricious approaches, giving his playing a personal style fueled by resonance and natural feedback; an album that balances chaotic and structured environments in riveting ways. ... Click to View


Musicworks:
#137 Fall 2020 [MAGAZINE + CD] (Musicworks)

Fall 2020 issue of Canada's finest new music magazine, focusing on guitars--hollow, heavy, bowed, cracked, pedalled, flung, trusty companions & feedback demons; Plus articles on Casey Koyczan, Susan Alcorn, Amy Brandon, Aidan Baker, Eliza Kavtion, C. Diab, Markus Lake, Catherine Debard, Cloud Chamber, &c; and an 11-track CD with music from the aforementioned. ... Click to View


Milford Graves / Don Pullen:
The Complete Yale Concert, 1966 (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

Originally issued in two volumes on their own SRP Records in 1966 & 67 as In Concert At Yale University and Nommo, the duo of drummer/percussionist Milford Graves and pianist Don Pullen are heard live in in this excitingly energetic and revelatory concert at Yale University, redefining the roles of their instruments during the most exploratory period of free jazz. ... Click to View


Schlippenbach Quartet:
Three Nails Left (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

Remastered and with the original cover, the expanded Schlippenbach Trio of pianist Alexander Von Schlippenbach, saxophonist Evan Parker on soprano & tenor, drummer/percussionist Paul Lovens, and German double bassist Peter Kowald, a stellar group captured in two incredibly inventive concerts at Third New Jazz Festival Moers and at Quartier Latin in 1974 & 1975. ... Click to View


Peter Kowald Quintet:
Peter Kowald Quintet (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

First ever CD reissue of the only band under bassist Peter Kowald's own name, remastered; originally released by FMP in 1972, this is exemplary European Free Jazz from one of the orignal innovators in a quartet with Peter Kowald on tuba, bass, & alphorn, Gunter Christmann and Paul Rutherford on trombones, Peter van der Locht on alto saxophone, and Paul Lovens on drums. ... Click to View


Evan Parker / Agusti Fernandez:
Tempranillo (Fundacja Sluchaj!)

Reissuing this astonishing 1995 studio recording, capturing the first encounter between two legendary free jazz performers--UK saxophonist Evan Parker on tenor and soprano saxophones and pianist Augustí Fernández--in an 8-part dialog of mercurial speed balanced with moments of passionate introspection, resissued with new mastering, restoring this essential meeting. ... Click to View


Ivo Perelman / Arcado String Trio:
Deep Resonance (Fundacja Sluchaj!)

Saxophonist Ivo Perelman declares that he "metamorphosed into a string instrument" himself while playing with the dynamic string trio drawn of NY Downtown luminaries--cellist Hank Roberts, violinist Mark Feldman and bassist Mark Dresser--blending technical mastery with profound creative impulse as the quartet weaves a tapestry of free jazz and instant composition. ... Click to View



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  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.



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Recent Selections @ Squidco:


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