The Squid's Ear Magazine

Reed, Mike: The Separatist Party (Astral Spirits)

Transforming a sense of isolation and separation into exuberant and pointed expression, drummer Mike Reed brings together this hybrid sextet of Chicago players, including cornetist Ben LaMar Gay, poet and spoken word artist Marvin Tate (D-Settlement), and members of Bitchin Bajas (Rob Frye, Cooper Crain, and Dan Quinlivan), for 9 heartfelt, intensely passionate pieces.

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Mike Reed-drums, percussion

Rob Frye-tenor saxophone, flute, percussion

Cooper Crain-guitar, synthesizer

Dan Quinlivan-synthesizer

Marvin Tate-vocals

Ben Lamar Gay-cornet, flugelhorn, percussion

Click an artist name above to see in-stock items for that artist.

UPC: 4062548073782

Label: Astral Spirits
Catalog ID: AS231 / WJ56
Squidco Product Code: 34897

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2023
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Engineered by Cooper Crain.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Long before the pandemic, Reed had been thinking about isolation, haunted by a 2015 story in The New York Times about the death of a resident named George Bell, a hoarder who passed away at home, his body undiscovered for nearly a week. In January 2022, Reed gathered a group of some of the most creative figures in Chicago's experimental and improvised music community to put sound to those thoughts of forced seclusion: cornetist Ben LaMar Gay, poet and spoken word artist Marvin Tate, and members of Bitchin Bajas (Rob Frye, Cooper Crain, and Dan Quinlivan). Together, they called the new group and its resulting album The Separatist Party, echoing the loner persona all six musicians transmit at times. It's the first installment of a three-album cycle involving a varied cast of musicians, dealing with themes of inner and outer human isolation.

The six musicians coalesced into an exciting new ensemble commingling a wide array of styles and influences into a groove-oriented expression of communion in the face of crippling solitude. One can glean wisps of Don Cherry's Organic Music conception, the ecstatic fire of Pharoah Sanders, the cycling minimalism of Terry Riley, the motoric rhythms of Krautrock, the exploratory tones of Sun Ra, and clipped soul of vintage Ethiopian music within The Separatist Party, but no single element arrives wholesale.

Lead single and album opener "Your Soul" begins with sparse keys, skittering percussion, and the striking vocals of Tate, the longtime leader of D-Settlement. At once fully realized and completely off the cuff, "Your Soul" swells as additional instruments wander in. "More time, more mind, more wine, more, more, more," Tate cries out, continuing, "YOUR SOUL IS A MOSH PIT." His hectoring, biting oratory conveys an indelible sense of Chicago street culture, as his narratives quietly underline the complex, often contradictory realities of working class struggles, whether through the pernicious veil of racism or fear of connection.

Reed adds: "'Your Soul' was created on the spot after hearing Marvin perform an acapella version using some of the lyrical content. It gave me the idea to build a backing track derived by inverting the bass parts of two older compositions and placing them in the same key. Further, the two bass lines are phrased differently, shifting in and out of rhythmic focus. I wanted the whole record to have this familiar but out-of-focus feeling, hoping to make people be much more active listeners. People tend to lean in more when they feel something got a little weird, but they can't quite put their finger on it."

In his own life, Reed has become a community-builder, both through making music and presenting it. Reed has led bands (including his old, disbanded quintet, Loose Assembly, and People, Places and Things), serves in the the Artifacts collective alongside Nicole Mitchell and Tomeka Reid, and he maintains long-term projects with AACM co-founders Roscoe Mitchell and Wadada Leo Smith. He's programmed live music for over two decades, co-founding Chicago's Pitchfork Music Festival, serving as chair of the Chicago Music Festival, and owning and operating vital live music venues Constellation and The Hungry Brain. He views bandleading as a creative act, as the unexpected synchronicity of The Separatist Party's disparate members can attest."-We Jazz Records/Astral Spirits

Also available as a Vinyl LP.

Artist Biographies

"Mike Reed (b. Bielefeld, Germany May 26, 1974) is a musician, composer, bandleader and arts presenter based in Chicago. Over the last two decades he has emerged as a dominant force within Chicago's diverse artistic community, both through the music he makes and the live events he produces. In addition to leading or co-leading several working bands, all rooted deeply in jazz and improvised music, he's founding director of the Pitchfork Music Festival, the current programming chair of the Chicago Jazz Festival, and the owner and director of the acclaimed performing arts venue Constellation. He is a devoted cultural advocate committed to providing platforms for artistic expression unhindered by commercial pressures. In 2016 he also became the owner of the Hungry Brain, a cozy neighborhood tavern that's been a fulcrum for live creative music and socially-driven public programs.

His long-running post-bop quartet People, Places & Things has collaborated with guest musicians like Ira Sullivan, Julian Priester, Art Hoyle, Craig Taborn, and Matthew Shipp over the years. An expanded iteration of that project called Flesh & Bone, augmented by additional horn players and vocalist/poet Marvin Tate Reed, has pushed the project in new directions. The endeavor was initiated by the leader's deeply personal reaction to a race riot he found himself in the midst of in the town of Prerov in the Czech Republic during a 2009 tour. Reed also leads an improvisation-heavy quintet called Loose Assembly as well as the expansive octet Living by Lanterns (with includes guitarist Mary Halvorson, cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, drummer Tomas Fujiwara, and saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock). Over the last couple of years he's played in Artifacts, a collective trio with flutist Nicole Mitchell and cellist Tomeka Reid, devoted to interpreting music by members of the AACM-a body of work rarely interpreted by musicians other than the composers.

In addition to forging ongoing collaborative relationships with first-wave AACM figures like the legendary reedist Roscoe Mitchell and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, Reed remains a lynchpin in his native city, working as a key member of vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz's trio Sun Rooms as well as the octet led by bassist Jason Roebke. Over the years he was worked with Chicago musicians like guitarist Jeff Parker, flutist Nicole Mitchell, saxophonists Fred Anderson, and cornetist Rob Mazurek. He's a member of Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), where he served as vice-chairperson between 2009-2011. Downbeat Magazine has regularly recognized Reed as Jazz Artist, Rising Star in in its annual Critics Poll since 2009, and one of the 80 Best Things About Jazz in its 80th Anniversary issue. In 2010 The Chicago Tribune named Reed as one of its Chicagoans of the year and in 2014 Chicago Magazine cited him as the 94th most powerful and influential person in the city. In 2016 Reed was awarded a prestigious United States Artists fellowship from the Doris Duke Foundation, recognized for his "unique artistic voice that expands the creative environment of the United States."

Reed's organizational talents first surfaced when he and cornetist Josh Berman launched the Sunday Transmission series at the Hungry Brain in 2000. That weekly series as remained a crucial nexus of performance and socializing for jazz and improvised musicians in Chicago, and it opened the door for Reed's entrepreneurial side. In 2005 he parlayed his increased experience into large multi-day music festivals in partnership with the influential music website Pitchfork; the event is now one of the most important summer music festivals in the world. Soon he joined the committee that programs the annual Chicago Jazz Festival-the largest free jazz festival in the world. He also helped launch the city's Downtown Sound music series, a free weekly concert program presented in Millennium Park that has featured an eclectic mix of indie rock, world music, and contemporary soul, and he remains involved with its programming.

His interest in programming a widening range of performance reached its apex in the spring of 2013 when he opened Constellation, a multi-room venue that rapidly made its mark on the local arts scene. From the outset he partnered with the renowned Chicago dance organization Links Hall to program nightly events. As a building partner, Links Hall brings decades of experience fostering artistic growth in dance, performance art, film and other media, while Reed has quickly established Constellation as a hothouse for jazz, improvised, experimental, and contemporary classical music. Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune has called it, "one of the most important rooms in the city," and in its first year in business, the Chicago Reader named the space the Best New Music Venue."

-Mike Reed Website (

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"Rob Frye was born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri 1987 and grew up in St. Louis where he began playing guitar and saxophone. He moved to Chicago in 2006 to attend DePaul University's school of music where he graduated in 2010. Since then he has pursued the muse of sound along with the rest of the artistic community embedded in Chicago, and alternated his summers between working as a field biologist for the Institute for Bird Populations in California (2012, 2014, and 2016) and as a counselor/resident artist for Chicago Park District's culture arts and nature programs (2013, 2015, 2017, and 2018).

(from katharina ritter:) ...with synthesizer, flute, saxophone, clarinet, guitar and drum, Rob Frye is present in Chicago bands Bitchin Bajas, Cave, El is a Sound of Joy, and more. With his own project Flux Bikes, he also uses his bicycle as an instrument. The performance begins before the concert, riding to every appearance and continuing to experiment with dynamics, poly rhythms and loops. The tires tell of the journey between melody, noise and sound intervention. His collaborative trips range from the local to the international.

Rob has recorded professionally with a variety of musical groups, (, and is associated with Chicago labels Drag City, Thrill Jockey, and projects Circuit des Yeux, Jackie Lynn, Ben Lamar Gay and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith among others. Between the seasonal work mentioned above he works as a sound engineer and tours internationally with various projects."

-New Music USA (

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Cooper Crain is a Chicago keyboard player, leader of the band Bitchin' Bajas anda member of the band Cave with Dan Quinlivan and Rob Frye. He was originally from Columbia, Missouri. He has also been a member of groups Citizen Pain, The I Love You But I'm Not In Love With Yous, Warhammer 48k and Jackie Lynn. Crain also does recording, mixing and production work.

-Discogs (

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Dan Quinlivan is a Chicago keyboardist, known for the group Bitchin Bajas, Chandeliers, Mahjongg, The Separatist Party, and Jackie Lynn.

-Discogs (

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"Marvin Tate (born 1959) is an American artist, poet, and singer-songwriter from Chicago.

Tate was born in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago in 1959. Tate attended the University of Illinois at Chicago, studying with Sterling Plumpp. In 1983 Tate moved to New York City, moving back to Chicago in 1985.

Tate lives and works in Chicago, IL. Tate is the author of Schoolyard of Broken Dreams (Tia Chucha Press, 1994) and The Amazing Mister Orange (Curbside Splendor, 2014). His honors include grants from the Poetry Foundation and the Illinois Arts Council.

In the mid-1980s, Tate started performing at open mics and slam poetry competitions around the city, and was a regular participant in the Uptown Poetry Slam.

In 1990, Tate became Chicago's poetry slam champion, after which he was featured on the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. In the early 1990s Tate was a member of Uptighty, with Leroy Bach (Wilco) and Dan Bitney (Tortoise), and hosted a local talk show called Talk-A-Riot-Y. Tate won a poetry slam hosted as part of Lollapalooza 1994. In 1997, Tate appeared with David Sedaris on This American Life.

Tate fronted the experimental poetry/funk band D-Settlement from the 1990s to early 2000s, which released three albums from 1997 to 2002 as Marvin Tate's D-Settlement. The Chicago Tribune wrote: "By merging ferociously honest poetry with various black musical traditions, Tate stands as heir to Chicagoan Oscar Brown Jr., the veteran urban griot whose lyrics long have decried racism and social injustice."

In 2004, Tate appeared on the compilation reVerse with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Alexi Murdoch, Lou Reed and Mark Strand. In 2005, Tate performed the poem "My Life to the Present" on Def Jam Poetry. In 2014, Joyful Noise released the album Tim Kinsella Sings the Songs of Marvin Tate by LeRoy Bach Featuring Angel Olsen, an album interpreting Tate's songs. In 2017, the Jazz Institute of Chicago invited Tate to perform Langston Hughes' poem "Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz." Tate adapted it into "A Great Day in the Neighborhood - Echoes of Langston Hughes," incorporating film, dance, and jazz instrumentals from Greg Ward and Ben LaMar Gay.

Tate is represented by Hana Pietri Gallery in Chicago, IL. In 2019, Intuit: The Center for Outsider Art presented an exhibition of Tate's artwork, Looking at You From a Distance Not Too Far: Work by Marvin Tate.Poetry

Tate's influences include Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Charles Bukowski, Ivor Cutler, Stephen Dobyns, doo-wop, gospel, and the blues. The Chicago Tribune notes of Tate's writing: "Though it's often funny or absurd, the work's most striking aspect is the calm sense of melancholy consistent in every piece..." "-Wikipedia

-Wikipedia (

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"Ben Lamar is a prolific composer, vocalist, trumpeter, producer, and music educator. Lamar began his musical journey with the initial influence of his father's diverse vinyl collection and his family's unique music listening rituals. He has been creating music professionally for over 20 years now - performing, recording, producing for, and studying with a number of vital figures in the world of music, including Jazz, Blues, Hip-Hop and Electronic." (

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Track Listing:

1. Your Soul 04:48

2. A Low Frequency Nightmare 06:54

3. We Just Came to Dance 05:20

4. Floating With an Intimate Stranger 05:07

5. Rahsaan In the Serengeti 04:32

6. Hold Me, Hold Me 03:02

7. Our Own Love Language 04:04

8. One Of Us 04:34

9. Eric's Theme 05:17

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Chicago Jazz & Improvisation
Sextet Recordings
Spoken Word
New in Improvised Music
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Astral Spirits.

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