The Squid's Ear Magazine

Jackson, Keefe / Jason Adasiewicz: Rows And Rows [VINYL] (Delmark)

An inventive and lyrical set of duos between Chicago tenor saxophonist and bass clarinetist Keefe Jackson and vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, nine concise pieces that blend free improvisation with compositions seamlessly in a really delightful duo.

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product information:

UPC: 038153502423

Label: Delmark
Catalog ID: DMK 5024
Squidco Product Code: 22642

Format: LP
Condition: New
Released: 2016
Country: USA
Packaging: LP
Recorded at Huron in Chicago, Illinois on June 12th and 13th, 2015 by Griffin Rodriguez.


Keefe Jackson-tenor saxophone, bass clarinet

Jason Adasiewicz-vibraphone

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Shaping their musical heritage together for 15 years, saxophonist Keefe Jackson and vibist Jason Adasiewicz have been vital in defining and refining "The Chicago Sound". Their relationship with Delmark has spanned over a decade; combined they have 20 albums on the label. On Rows And Rows, six of the nine original compositions were composed specifically for the session, while the remaining three are older tunes re-imagined for duo. The atmosphere of a jazz duet can paint one of the most personal and intimate musical conversations. This one brings the listener into their world, creating a social environment that you may want to tap your foot to, or even go a little further."-Delmark

"Keefe Jackson's tone is essential. Whether he's playing tenor saxophone or bass clarinet, which are of course as different as brass and wood, his sound is immediately identifiable. It's a deep, full tone that is shadowy and full of movement - like candlelight. I'm not romanticizing it. Those waxy wisps of smoky light are exactly what enable you to get to the bathroom in a power outage. Essential. Like that.

Because his tone is so rich - and his voice so varied - I've always wondered why he doesn't do more duo work. (I've not heard any solo work from him. A discussion for another time, I suppose.) He is well matched with powerhouse vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, whose stereophonic overtones, sustain and sharp mallet stings connect and contradict in all the right ways. On paper this promises to be one helluva textural ride.

And while that expectation is definitely delivered, the big surprise here is the meshing of composition and improvisation into such completeness that it's impossible to tell when composition ends and improvisation begins. Well... until the head repeats at the end of some of the pieces and you realize that the brilliant composition you've been listening to for the last two minutes was totally improvised. (Or was it?) The scope is varied throughout as well, running from East African melodicism on "Questioned, Understood, Possessed" to the bluesy old-school swing of the title track.

Several moments of transcendence include:

  • Adasiewicz's clanging tone clusters that resonate like a trolley filled with magic contrasting with Jackson's supremely deep bass clarinet presence midway through "Where's Mine."
  • "A Rose Heading," a plaintive and gorgeous piece, is conventionally beautiful while steering clear of anything remotely maudlin. Adasiewicz joins Keefe's bass clarinet to play the melody before levitating toward the stars over Keefe's slow, drawn-out whole notes. If Adasiewicz plays the stars in a constellation, Jackson seems to look up and play the imaginary lines connecting them.
  • The playful support Adasiewicz shows Jackson on "Questioned, Understood, Possessed" is fascinating. He throws sonic pillows at the ground underneath Jackson's notes - to catch them if they fall (and they don't). Jackson's notes mostly float high above the ground, swirling and flapping broadly - until Adasiewicz tosses a pillow directly at one and Jackson bats it away masterfully. This happens several times.
  • The theme from "Cannon from the Nothing Suite" is played "round" style with Jason and Keefe winding the melody around each other. Keefe drops a few really interesting notes and then bends & modulates them, heading back to East Africa on a rickety bus powered by vibraphone stardust. Adasiewicz then begins bowing the vibes, taking the bus into the sky & accelerating by pounding the metal with mallets.

The selections here are relatively short. (There are nine pieces; the longest clocks in at 6:01.) To extend them into longer stretches might produce some interesting results, but ultimately the line that blurs composition and improvisation would most likely become more defined. And it's that blurred line that creates the magic. The way this disc is sequenced and presented, the magic can continue to live over multiple listening sessions. You won't get tired of the tunes either. They sneak up on you. You don't realize their strength until you've heard them multiple times. And you will definitely listen to them multiple times."-Tom Burris, Free Jazz Blog

Also available on CD.
Get additional information at Free Jazz Blog

Artist Biographies

"Keefe Jackson, saxophonist/clarinetist/improvisor/composer, arrived in Chicago in 2001 from his native Fayettevile, Arkansas. He performs regularly in the U.S. and in Europe with many musicians including Pandelis Karayorgis, Tomeka Reid, Tim Daisy, Dave Rempis, Jeb Bishop, Jason Roebke, Jason Adasiewicz, Mike Reed, Jason Stein, Josh Berman, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Frank Rosaly, Oscar Jan Hoogland and Marc Unternaehrer. He has also appeared with Michael Moore, Ab Baars, Michiel Braam, Satoko Fujii, and Anthony Coleman. Bill Meyer (Chicago Reader): "...the impeccable logic of his lines and the richness of his tone leave you wanting more... Jackson's high-register squiggles and coarsely voiced, rippling runs push the limits of the tenor's tonal envelope." Frank van Herk, de Volkskrant (Amsterdam): "[Jackson] has an old-fashioned, warm-woolly sound, and a feeling for melodic lines that take their time in unfolding." He has been mentioned in the DownBeat Critics Poll in the Rising Star Tenor Saxophone category. Recordings are available on Delmark and Clean Feed Records."

-Keefe Jackson Website (

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"Jason Adasiewicz was born in Wichita, Kansas in 1977, but raised in Crystal Lake, Illinois. He studied jazz drums at DePaul University for three years. He only eased into the vibraphone after leaving school, playing it in the indie-rock scene around Chicago with bands like Pinetop Seven and the singer-songwriter Edith Frost.

In the early 2000s he began his collaboration with cornetist Josh Berman and drummer Mike Reed. Since then he was worked in the Chicago jazz and improvisation scene with multiple bands, including Rob Mazurek's Starlicker and Exploding Star Orchestra, Mike Reed's Loose Assembly, Josh Berman and His Gang, Nicole Mitchell's Ice Crystal, James Falzone's Klang and Ken Vandermark's Topology and Audio One.

Adasiewicz formed his Chicago-based jazz quintet, Rolldown, in 2004, while living in Madison. In 2008 he founded the trio Sun Rooms, with Nate McBride and Mike Reed."

-Wikipedia (

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

Track Listing:

1. Cabollo Ballo 5:24

2. Questioned, Understood, Possessed 3:44

3. Where's Mine 4:39

4. A Rose Heading 4:25

5. Swap 4:05

6. Rows And Rows 4:01

7. Putting It On, Taking It Off 3:34

8. Cannon From The Nothing Suite 6:04

9. Thunder Cooker 6:08

Related Categories of Interest:

Vinyl Recordings
Improvised Music
Chicago Jazz & Improvisation
Duo Recordings
Melodic and Lyrical Jazz
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