The Squid's Ear Magazine


Williams, Mars presents (w/ Berman / Lonberg-Holm / Baker / Kessler / Sandstrom / Hunt): An Ayler Xm (Soul What Records)

Chicago saxophonist Mars Williams directs his Albert Ayler tribute band, Witches and Devils, to merge Ayler-esque compositions with Christmas songs, performed by Josh Berman (cornet) Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello), Jim Baker (keys, viola), Kent Kessler (bass), Brian Sandstrom (bass, guitar, trumpet); an unexpected and welcome present for your free jazz festivities!
 

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Personnel:



Mars Williams-saxes, toy instruments

Josh Berman-cornet

Fred Lonberg-Holm-cello

Jim Baker-piano, Arp synth, viola

Kent Kessler-bass

Brian Sandstrom-bass, guitar, trumpet

Steve Hunt-drums, percussion


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UPC: 888295655729

Label: Soul What Records
Catalog ID: SWR 0003
Squidco Product Code: 25221

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2017
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack
Recorded Live At Hungry Brain, in Chicago, Illinois, on December 18th, 2016, by Dave Zukowski.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"For many years Witches and Devils, the long-running Albert Ayler tribute band led by saxophonist Mars Williams, have existed mostly as an excuse to get together and perform an annual Chicago holiday concert. For these memorable concerts, Williams merges a variety of Christmas songs with the indelible repertoire of free-jazz titan Ayler, who brought a scalding intensity to tunes rooted in gospel and spirituals.

It may sound silly, but the performances are no joke, and they produce a seriously joyful noise. The band tackles warhorses like "O Tannenbaum" and "12 Days of Christmas" in the same smoldering fashion as their take on Ayler: the rhythm section bubbles and generates a kind of levitating intensity during the wonderfully expressive, multilinear theme statements, while the horns state familiar melodies in loose cries and the embellished lines of each player pull apart and coalesce in a naturalistic frenzy. Williams designs clever medleys that appropriate the pulse and feel of particular Ayler tunes as the band rips through a greatest-hits lineup of holiday tracks."-Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader

See also "An Ayler Xmas" Volume 2"

Artist Biographies

"Mars Williams is an open-minded musician, composer and educator who commutes easily between free jazz, funk, hip-hop and rock, Mars has played and recorded with The Psychedelic Furs, Billy Idol, Massacre, Fred Frith, Bill Laswell, Ministry, Power Station, Die Warzau, The Waitresses, Kiki Dee, Pete Cosey, Billy Squier, DJ Logic, Wayne Kramer, John Scoffield, Charlie Hunter, Kurt Elling, Swollen Monkeys, Mike Clark, Jerry Garcia, Naked Raygun, Friendly Fires, The Untouchables, Blow Monkeys and virtually every leading figure of Chicago's and New York City's "downtown" scene.

John Zorn credits Mars as "one of the true saxophone players--someone who takes pleasure in the sheer act of blowing the horn. This tremendous enthusiasm is an essential part of his sound, and it comes through each note every time he plays. Whatever the situation, Mars plays exciting music. In many ways he has succeeded in redefining what versatility means to the modern saxophone player."

In 2001 Mars received a Grammy Nomination for Best Contemporary Jazz Record with his group Liquid Soul.

Despite his busy touring schedule with Liquid Soul and The Psychedelic Furs, Mars manages to stay active on the Chicago underground improvising scene. In recent years he has toured and recorded with the Peter Brötzmann Tentet, Switchback, Full Blast, Scorch Trio, the Vandermark 5, Boneshaker, Chicago Reed Quartet and Cinghiale, teaming him with such musicians as Ken Vandermark, Hamid Drake, Michael Zerang, William Parker, Ikue Mori, Kent Kessler, Fredric Lonberg Holm, Peter Brotzmann, Joe McPhee, Paal Nilssen-Love, Ab Baars, Mike Reed, Jeb Bishop, Harrison Bankhead, Dave Rempis, Kidd Jordan and Matts Gustafson.

He performs weekly in Chicago along with Jim Baker, Steve Hunt, and Brian Sandstrom in the improvising quartet "Extraordinary Popular Delusions". As a bandleader, he continues to perform and record CDs with his own free-jazz groups, the NRG Ensemble, Witches & Devils, Slam, XmarsX, Mars Trio, Boneshaker and The Soul Sonic Sirkus which features improvising musicians and aerial circus performers. Along with Die Warsau's Van Christie, Mars has started Ratking Music, a production company focusing on music for film and television.

In addition to performing and creating music, Mars has been an educator in the field of woodwinds and jazz improvisation for over thirty years. Mars held the position of Woodwind Instructor at Bard College for two years. In the last few years Mars has presented Master classes and clinics to a number of private and public institutions including, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the University of Chicago, Roosevelt University (Chicago, IL), and June Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art (Auburn, AL)."

-Mars Williams Website (http://www.marswilliams.com/about/)
5/23/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"For more than fifteen years, cornetist, improviser, composer, and music presenter Josh Berman has been an essential contributor to Chicago's active improvised music scene. His work encompasses both developing opportunities for presenting improvised music, and performing in a variety of highly collaborative formats. He's a co-founder of critically acclaimed Umbrella Music, and curator of the Sunday night music series at the Hungry Brain. He's performed as bandleader of his own groups, Josh Berman Trio, Josh Berman's Old Idea, and Josh Berman and His Gang, and as co-leader of Chicago Luzern Exchange.

In addition to his work as bandleader, Berman has performed and recorded with some of the most internationally respected musicians and composers in jazz and improvised music: Bill Dixon, Ab Baars, Keefe Jackson, Joe McPhee, Jason Adasiewicz, Mike Reed, Michael Moore, Ken Vandermark, Frank Rosaly, Rob Mazurek, Jason Stein, Jeb Bishop, Dave Rempis, Michael Zerang, Fred Lonberg-Holm, and Paul Lytton. He is also a frequent collaborator with dance artists; his collaboration with dancer Ayako Kato and musician Jason Roebke was awarded a CROSSCUT grant for New Collaborations in Sound/Movement from Experimental Sound Studio and Links Hall. Berman was named in the DownBeat critics' poll among Rising Stars, Trumpet. He has toured the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan.

In 2009, Berman and his group Old Idea released their first full length CD/LP, Old Idea, on Delmark. Josh Berman and His Gang's There Now, also on Delmark Records, came out in 2012. And 2015 saw the release of Josh Berman Trio's A Dance and A Hop on Delmark. The albums have garnered critical acclaim in publications including The New York Times, DownBeat, Jazz Times, the Chicago Reader, and the Chicago Tribune."

-Josh Berman Website (http://joshberman.net/)
5/23/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Fred Lonberg-Holm (born 1962) is an American cellist based in Chicago. He relocated from New York City to Chicago in 1995. Lonberg-Holm is most identified with playing free improvisation and free jazz. He is also a composer of concert works. As a session musician and arranger, he is credited on many rock, pop, and country records. Lonberg-Holm currently leads the Valentine Trio, with Jason Roebke (bass) and Frank Rosaly (drums). This jazz trio performs original compositions as well as tunes by both jazz composers (e.g. Sun Ra) and pop songwriters (e.g. Jeff Tweedy, Syd Barrett). The group released its first album Terminal Valentine, in 2007, which was reviewed by AllAboutJazz critic Nils Jacobson.

He coordinates and directs performances of his Lightbox Orchestra, an improvising ensemble with a flexible, ever-changing membership. Lonberg-Holm does not play an instrument in this group, but rather conducts its non-idiomatic improvisations via the "lightbox" and by holding up handwritten signs. The lightbox contains a light bulb for each musician which Lonberg-Holm switches on or off to suggest when they should play. Collective groups of which Lonberg-Holm is a member include Terminal 4 who released an album, in 2003, called When I'm Falling that received four and a half stars, and AMG Album Pick by Allmusic, and it was reviewed by Allmusic's Joslyn Layne, The Boxhead Ensemble, Pillow, the Lonberg-Holm/Kessler/Zerang trio (with Kent Kessler and Michael Zerang), and the Dörner/Lonberg-Holm duo (with Axel Dörner).

Among groups led by other people, he is a member of the Vandermark 5, the Joe McPhee Trio, the Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet, Keefe Jackson's Fast Citizens, and Ken Vandermark's Territory Band. When he lived in New York, Lonberg-Holm frequently collaborated with the rock group God Is My Co-Pilot pianist and composer Anthony Coleman as well as multi-instrumentalist Paul Duncan of Warm Ghost. In Chicago, he has worked with Jim O'Rourke, Bobby Conn (on "Llovessonngs" [1999] and "The Golden Age" [2001]), The Flying Luttenbachers, Lake Of Dracula, Wilco, Rivulets, Mats Gustafsson, Sten Sandell, Jaap Blonk, John Butcher, and a great many others.

Lonberg-Holm's concert works have been premiered by William Winant, Carrie Biolo, the Austin New Music Co-Op, Subtropics Ensemble, Duo Atypica, the Schanzer/Speach Duo, New Winds, Paul Hoskin, Kevin Norton, the E.S.P. Ensemble, and others. His scores for dance have been performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Dance Theater Workshop as well as many other venues. He is a former composition student of Anthony Braxton and Morton Feldman. He performed improvised music in the role of a troubled composer who finds inspiration in the love of a couple he spots on the street in a short film for the Playboy channel."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Lonberg-Holm)
5/23/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Jim Baker was born in Chicago a number of years ago and has been playing in and around Chicago and elsewhere in the world for a few decades, mostly on piano and analog synthesizer; mostly in improvisational contexts; in situations involving, amongst others, Fred Anderson, Ken Vandermark, Michael Zerang, Mars Williams, Brian Sandstrom, Steve Hunt, Edward WIlkerson Jr, David Boykin, Rob Mazurek, Guillermo Gregorio, Nicole Mitchell, Vincent Davis, the Thing XXL, Tortoise, Dave Rempis, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Paul Hartsaw, Janet Bean, Damon Short, and numerous others.

For a number of years, Mr Baker was the house pianist at the weekly jam sessions at Fred Anderson's Velvet Lounge; and for most of the past decade, has played weekly with the improvising quartet Extraordinary Popular Delusions (the other three Delusions: Messrs. Williams, Sandstrom, & Hunt) , who currently play nearly every monday night at Beat Kitchen in Chicago."

-Milk Factory Productions (http://www.milkfactoryproductions.com/Jim_Baker.html)
5/23/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Kent Kessler (born January 28, 1957 in Crawfordsville, Indiana) is an American jazz double-bassist, best known for his work in the Chicago avant-garde jazz scene.

Kessler, born in Crawfordsville, Indiana, grew up on Cape Cod and began playing trombone at age ten. He and his family moved to Chicago when he was 13, and a few years later Kessler became intensely interested in jazz. While attending St. Mary Center for Learning High School, he began taking lessons from Kestutis Stanciauskas (Streetdancer) in electric bass and jazz theory in the middle of the 1970s. In 1977 he formed the ensemble Neutrino Orchestra with percussionist Michael Zerang and guitarists Dan Scanlan and Norbert Funk. He spent three months in Brazil during 1980-81 and spent time studying intermittently at Roosevelt University in Chicago; he and Zerang also formed a group called Musica Menta, which played regularly at Link's Hall.

Kessler began playing double bass in the 1980s and it became his primary instrument when he was asked in 1985 to join the NRG Ensemble, who toured Europe and recorded for ECM Records under the leadership of Hal Russell until his death in 1992. In 1991, he gigged with Zerang and guitarist Chris DeChiara; in need of a hornist, they called Ken Vandermark, who had been considering leaving the Chicago scene. Kessler and Vandermark would go on to collaborate extensively on free jazz and improvisational projects such as the Vandermark 5, the DKV Trio and the Steelwool Trio. In the 1990s and afterwards he worked with Chicago musicians such as Hamid Drake, Fred Anderson, and Joe McPhee, and also with European musicians such as Peter Brötzmann, Mats Gustafsson, Misha Mengelberg, and Luc Houtkamp.

In 2003, Kessler released a solo album, Bull Fiddle, on Okka Disk. Kessler performs alone on nine of the twelve tracks, and with Michael Zerang on three."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kent_Kessler)
5/23/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Brian Sandstrom is a Chicago based guitarist and bassist known for his work with NRG Ensemble.

-Squidco 5/23/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Steve Hunt is a drummer/percussionist in groups Caffeine, FJF, NRG Ensemble, Witches & Devils.

-Discogs (https://www.discogs.com/artist/808799-Steve-Hunt-3)
5/23/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.


Track Listing:



1. Ma'oz Tzur (Hanukkah) - Truth Is Marching In - Jingle Bells 14:21

2. O Tannenbaum - Spirits - 12 Days Of Xmas 08:34

3. Angels We Have Heard On High - Omega Is Alpha 08:34

Related Categories of Interest:


Improvised Music
Jazz
Free Improvisation
Chicago Jazz & Improvisation
Septet recordings
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
Gift Suggestions

Search for other titles on the label:
Soul What Records.


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