The Squid's Ear Magazine


Williams, Mars presents : An Ayler Xmas Volume 2 (ESP)

After releasing "An Ayler Xmas: The Music of Albert Ayler & Songs of Christmas" on Chicago saxophonist Mars Williams' Soul What? Label, ESP approached him for a 2nd volume, resulting in this joyful and quirky holiday record with contributions from Josh Berman, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Kent Kessler, Jeb Bishop, Christof Kurzmann, Didi Kern, Thomas Berghammer, Steve Hunt, Jim Baker and Hermann Stangassinger.
 

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Personnel:



Mars Williams-saxophones, toy instruments

Josh Berman-cornet

Fred Lonberg-Holm-cello

Jim Baker-piano, ARP synthesizer, viola

Kent Kessler-bass

Brian Sandstrom-bass, guitar, trumpet

Steve Hunt-drums, percussion

Jeb Bishop-trombone

Thomas Berghammer-trumpet

Hermann Stangassinger-bass

Didi Kern-drums, percussion

Christof Kurzmann-lloopp, vocals


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UPC: 825481503020

Label: ESP
Catalog ID: ESPDISK 5030CD
Squidco Product Code: 26605

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2018
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack
Tracks 1, 3, 4 recorded live at The Hungry Brain, in Chicago , Illinois.

Tracks 2, 5 recorded live at Porgy & Bess, in Vienna, Austria.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"A product of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians who studied with AACM founders Anthony Braxton and Roscoe Mitchell, saxophonist Mars Williams is most famous as a member of The Psychedelic Furs but has proven his jazz bona fides with Peter Brotzmann and Ken Vandermark and while guiding Liquid Soul and Hal Russell's NRG Ensemble, to name just a few. His rock CV is also varied, including many years in Akron new wave band The Waitresses and work with Billy Idol, Ministry, Massacre, and many more. He also leads the Albert Ayler tribute band Witches and Devils, and out of their holiday concerts grew a unique tradition.

One look at this album's track titles and you'll understand the concept here. One listen and you'll hear that, as odd as that concept may seem, it's brilliantly effective, with the disparate melodies working together in their common projection of joy and celebration. And it's worth noting that Williams's worlds collide on track three here, featuring The Waitresses's biggest hit, "Christmas Wrapping", as he played on their original recording.

After enjoying An Ayler Xmas Vol. 1 (2017) last year, ESP-Disk' invited him to make Vol. 2 a co-release of Williams's Soul What Records and ESP-Disk', the top Ayler label."-Soul What?

See An Ayler Xmas Volume 1

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/)
5/15/2024

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"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/)
5/15/2024

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)
5/15/2024

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)
5/15/2024

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)
5/15/2024

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 5/15/2024

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)
5/15/2024

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"Jeb Bishop was born in Raleigh, North Carolina during the Cuban missile crisis. He began playing the trombone at the age of 10, under the tutelage of Cora Grasser. Other influential teachers during junior high and high school included Jeanne Nelson, Eric Carlson, Richard Fecteau, Greg Cox, and James Cozart.

He majored in classical trombone performance at Northwestern University from 1980-82, studying with Frank Crisafulli. Deciding he did not want to pursue a career as an orchestral musician, he returned to Raleigh in 1982 and took up engineering studies at NC State University. Raleigh's developing underground rock scene attracted him, and from 1982-84 he played bass guitar in rock bands in the Raleigh area.

At the same time, he developed an interest in philosophy, eventually majoring in the subject, and spent 1984-85 studying philosophy at the Higher Institute of Philosophy of the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium.

Returing to Raleigh in 1985, he spent the next few years working at menial jobs and playing guitar, bass, cheap keyboards, drums, etc., in rock bands including and/or, the Angels of Epistemology, Egg, and Metal Pitcher.

In 1989 he left Raleigh to pursue graduate studies in philosophy, first at the University of Arizona, then at Loyola University of Chicago (where he was awarded the Crown Fellowship in the Humanities). During 1991-92 he returned to Europe, spending the summer of 1991 studying German at the Goethe-Institut Iserlohn (now closed), and then pursuing independent studies in philosophy at the French-language division of the University of Louvain.

Returning to Chicago in 1992, he completed his M.A. at Loyola in 1993. By this time he had already begun to make connections with improvising musicians in Chicago, having joined the Flying Luttenbachers as bassist (later adding trombone) in late 1992, and playing guitar occasionally in a quartet with Weasel Walter, Ken Vandermark, and Kevin Drumm. Other bands during this period included the Unheard Music Quartet (with Vandermark, Mike Hagedorn on trombone, and Otto Huber on drums) and the Rev Trio (with Walter and saxophonist Joe Vajarsky). Bishop played electric bass in both these bands.

In late 1995, Bishop joined the Vandermark 5 as one of its founding members, and remained with the band through the end of 2004. During this period he also became associated with many other groups, including the Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet, School Days, Ken Vandermark's Territory Band, and his own Jeb Bishop Trio, and became a very frequent participant in ad hoc and free-improvised concerts in Chicago. Bishop performed in the inaugural concerts of two of the longest-running free-music concert series in Chicago: the Myopic Books weekly concerts (originally at Czar Bar; with Rev Trio) and the Empty Bottle Wednesday night concert series (with a quartet of Terri Kapsalis, Kevin Drumm, and Jim O'Rourke). He curated the monthly Chicago Improvisers Group concerts at the Green Mill from 1999-2002, and co-curated the weekly Eight Million Heroes concert series at Sylvie's in 2005-6.

Bishop has made dozens of recordings with many different groups, has toured North America and Europe many times, and maintains a busy performing schedule."

-Jeb Bishop Website (http://www.jebbishop.com/jebbio.html)
5/15/2024

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

"Didi Kern, the human rhythm machine of Bulbul, Broken Heart Collector, Fuckhead, Wipeout, Die Mäuse, Wenzl Dnatek (among others), feels at home in almost any genre: noise, rock, techno, free jazz - you name it."



Didi Kern musician in rock, improvised- and electronic music, playing the drums since childhood, starting in rural marching bands. Since the 90s he is best known for his contributions in bands like Bulbul or Fuckhead.

-Elevate Website (https://elevate.at/websites/2013/art/artist/didi_kern_philipp_quehen/)
5/15/2024

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

"Christof Kurzmann (vocals, lloopp, clarinet, alto sax), is an Austrian musician, performer, composer currently living in Buenos Aires. Beginning in 1994 he started his work in the field of experimental electronic music. Since that time Christof has collaborated with some of the most significant artists working in contemporary music and improvisation- including Toto Alvarez, Martin Brandlmayr, John Butcher, Eden Carrasco, Sebi Ciurcina, Werner Dafeldecker, Kai Fagaschinski, Fernanda Farrah, Bernhard Fleischmann, Michaela Grill, Margareth Kammerer, Leonel Kaplan, Bernhard Lang, Andrea Neumann, Fernando Perales, Eva Reiter, Marina Rosenfeld, Ursula Rucked, Burkhard Stangl, Michael Thieke, and Clayton Thomas- in groups such as El Infierno Musical, The Magic I.D., and Schee. During the course of his career, Christof has performed throughout Europe, Japan, North and South Amercia. He has also been a music curator since the mid 1980's, and in 1999 founded the record label, Charhizma, which has released more than 30 cds."

-http://kenvandermark.com/2013/10/made-to-break-biography/ (Ken Vandermark Website)
5/15/2024

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


Track Listing:



1. Xmas Medley 15:15

2. O Tannenbaum - Spirits - 12 Days Of Christmas (Vienna) 11:35

3. Love Cry - Christmas Wrapping 4:41

4. Carol Of The Drum - Bells - O Come Emmanuel - Joy To The World 17:24

5. Universal Indians - We Wish You A Merry Xmas (Vienna) 4:50

Related Categories of Interest:


Improvised Music
Jazz
Free Improvisation
Chicago Jazz & Improvisation
Gift Suggestions
Melodic and Lyrical Jazz
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
Top Sellers for 2018 by Customer Sales

Search for other titles on the label:
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Rare Entertainment
(Mystery & Wonder)
The first meeting of Austrian improviser Christof Kurzmann (The Magic I.D., Schee) and Montreal sound artist Elizabeth Millar (Sound of the Mountain, Ensemble Supermusique) in two tremendous multi-part performances live at the 2019 Suoni Per il Popolo Festival in Montreal, works of mysteriously vibratory backdrop, insinuating narrative voice and unsettling sonic interaction.
Chicago Plan, The (Swell / Ullmann / Lonberg-Holm / Zerang)
For New Zealand
(Not Two)
Featuring compositions from both trombonist Steve Swell and tenor saxophonist & bass clarinetist Gebhard Ulmann, the second album from The Chicago Plan with cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and drummer Michael Zerang is captured in the studio in Augsburg, Germany for six exceptional modern jazz recordings from a profoundly masterful and experienced transatlantic band.



The Squid's Ear Magazine

The Squid's Ear Magazine

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