The Squid's Ear Magazine

Mazzarella, Nick Trio: Counterbalance [VINYL] (Astral Spirits)

From 2008-16 until drummer Frank Rosaly moved to Amsterdam, alto saxophonist Nick Mazzarella's Trio was an active part of Chicago's creative jazz scene; in early 2018 Rosaly returned for a visit and Mazzarella composed a suite of 6 new pieces to commemorate the trio's tenth anniversary, the exuberant result this excellent concert recorded at Co-Prosperity Sphere!

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product information:

Label: Astral Spirits
Catalog ID: AS106
Squidco Product Code: 27917

Format: LP
Condition: New
Released: 2019
Country: USA
Packaging: LP
Recorded at Co-Prosperity Sphere in Bridgeport, Chicago, on January 19th, 2018, by David Allen and Dave Vettraino.


Nick Mazzarella-alto saxophone

Anton Hatwich-bass

Frank Rosaly-drums

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"The Nick Mazzarella Trio was formed in 2008 and for several years remained one of the most active working bands in Chicago's vibrant jazz scene, performing regularly at clubs and festivals across the city, and recording three albums before drummer Frank Rosaly moved to Amsterdam in 2016. When Rosaly returned for a visit in early 2018, Mazzarella composed a suite of six new pieces for a concert commemorating the trio's tenth anniversary. That performance, given before a full house at Co-Prosperity Sphere in the south-side neighborhood of Bridgeport, was recorded live on reel to reel tape, and the complete, uncut recording is now available as the trio's fourth album, Counterbalance.

On Counterbalance, the members of the trio bring to bear the collective creative experience they have accumulated over the past decade, displaying a new level of maturity in their interpretation of Mazzarella's latest compositions-which draw as much from contemporary classical music as from the jazz tradition-and a new level of patience and communication in their highly personal improvisations. As critic John Corbett asserts in his liner notes for the album, the trio's music is "magnificent, relaxed. It has nothing to prove. The sound is proof enough."-Astral Spirits

COMMENTS ON Counterbalance

"When I first heard Counterbalance, I was a bit stunned. It made me think of some of my favorite saxophone trio albums: Ornette Coleman's Live at the Golden Circle, Air's Air Song, Charles Gayle's Touchin' On Trane, Joseph Jarman's Black Paladins. Not that the Nick Mazzarella Trio is taking cues from these, but rather that they are creating an indelible statement, breathing new life into a common form. As John Corbett observes in his liner notes, the Nick Mazzarella Trio has nothing to prove. Counterbalance is their fourth album in ten years. It is a beautifully recorded statement of intent, a snapshot of a moment in time, new music for a new decade. They don't care if you buy this record. They don't care if you know their individual CVs. They don't care if you've never heard of them before now. The music captured here is all that matters."-Nate Cross, Astral Spirits

"When I entered Co-Prosperity Sphere on January 19, 2018, I already knew it was going to be a special night. The Nick Mazzarella Trio's first performance in almost two years, occurring in their hometown, celebrating a decade of activity, performing a collection of brand new original music before a packed house and being recorded live. The energy and anticipation was palpable. What ensued was a perfect display of the controlled freedom the group had become known for as a fixture of the Chicago improvised music scene-Mazzarella's compositions providing the perfect vehicles for the band's broad dynamic and emotional ranges, at once searching and focused. Limitless exploration performed with expert ability, skilled experimentation by masterful travelers. The audience was rapt. At the end of the night, as the tapes were transferring, I grabbed the headphones for a listen. Even having just witnessed the concert, I was impressed with the quality of the sound and the performance. I turned to Nick, "This is your next record!" I shouted. He agreed. I'm very happy to help present, in partnership with Mazzarella and Astral Spirits' Nate Cross, the trio's fourth album, Counterbalance."- Quin Kirchner, Spacetone Records


Good ideas deserve to be explored as fully as possible, and the saxophone/bass/drum unit has been one of the most researched lineups in creative music. Nick Mazzarella Trio joined the investigation in 2008, and it's been a fruitful decade in the lab, as a working band/creative music triumvirate. Bassist Anton Hatwich and alto saxophonist Mazzarella have continued to reside in the ensemble's birthplace of Chicago, where they're both stalwart members of the creative music community. Meanwhile, drummer Frank Rosaly moved away a few years ago, setting up shop in Amsterdam, where he was immediately embraced as a part of that city's storied history of improvised music. But where some bandleaders would find such a departure an impasse in the growth of the music, Mazzarella understood that Rosaly's new horizons would offer something exciting to the music.

On Counterbalance, their fourth record, you can clearly hear the band's development. It was recorded live in Chicago on one of Rosaly's return visits, and I sense an expansion and deepening of the overall idea, something related to the personal maturation of all involved but also the trio itself. The band is cured, like fine charcuterie. Smoky. Delicious. Their music is magnificent, relaxed. It has nothing to prove. The sound is proof enough. Listening and offering and reacting and listening more. In Don Cherry's formulation, the Nick Mazzarella Trio makes organic music. No chemicals, no pesticides, no preservatives."-John Corbett, excerpt from liner notes for Counterbalance.

Artist Biographies

"Saxophonist and composer Nick Mazzarella has been a consistent presence in Chicago's music scene since the early 2000s, and his regular performances there represent an aesthetically unique contribution to the city's rich jazz and improvised music culture. His working trio and quintet have served as the primary vehicles for his endeavors as a composer and leader, while as a collaborator or sideman he has performed and recorded with such artists as Tomeka Reid, Makaya McCraven, Hamid Drake, Joshua Abrams, and Rob Mazurek. He has released recordings as a leader on Nessa Records, Clean Feed Records, and the International Anthem Recording Company imprint, among others, and has performed throughout the United States and Scandinavia. Mazzarella also curates two concert series: the Anagram Series, presented weekly at Elastic Arts in Chicago, and the Ratchet Series, presented monthly at Cafe Mustache in Chicago."

-Wikipedia (

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"Bassist, composer, and improviser Anton Hatwich has lived in Chicago since 2003. He was born and raised in Rockford, IL, growing up in a musical family. Anton moved to Iowa City, IA in 1995 and lived there until 2002, earning a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Iowa. After graduation Hatwich taught for two years as Visiting Artist in Music at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, IA. At the UI he studied bass with Dr. Diana Gannett, jazz and improvisation with John Rapson, and also gained valuable experience playing with the school's renown Center for New Music, under the direction of David Gompper. Outside of class, Anton was active in the local music scene. Of particular lasting importance was his work with clarinettist, saxophonist, and composer Robert Paredes, with whom Anton took first steps in the world of free improvisation.

In late 2002 Hatwich started spending large amounts of time amongst Chicago's improvised music community, hanging out all night with his new friends at concerts and bars, and crashing on his brother's couch. One thing led to another, and by spring of 2003 he was playing so much in Chicago that it made sense to move there. Since that time he has played in endlessly varied groups of (mostly) improvising musicians, with some combinations sticking around longer than others. A partial list of his collaborators includes Frank Rosaly, Keefe Jackson, Aram Shelton, Nick Mazzarella, Russ Johnson, Tim Daisy, Jason Stein, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Josh Berman, and Paul Giallorenzo. With the bands that lasted, Anton has recorded a number of critically acclaimed albums and toured nationally and internationally. He has appeared at a handful of the major jazz festivals, including the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Monterey Jazz Festival, the Ring Ring Festival in Belgrade, the Umbrella Festival, and the Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon Festival in Austria."

-Anton Hatwich Website (

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"Frank Rosaly (Francisco Javier Rosaly Amoros Rosello - b. 5/30/74 Phoenix, AZ) is a drummer and composer living in Chicago. He has been involved in the improvised and experimental music community since 2001 where he has become an integral part of Chicago's musical fabric, navigating a fine line between the vibrant improvised music, experimental, rock and jazz communities. He contributes much of his time to performing, composing, teaching, as well as organizing musical events, while also touring regularly domestically and internationally.

Frank is currently active in many projects throughout Chicago as well as New York and in Europe. Some groups include Bobby Bradford/Frode Gjerstad Quartet, Matana Robert's Chicago Project, Rob Mazurek's Mandarin Movie, The Rempis Percussion Quartet, Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten Quintet, Scorch Trio, Nicole Mitchell Ice Crystal Quartet, Jason Stein Quartet, Jeff Parker/Nels Cline Quartet, Josh Abrams' Natural Information Society, Fred Lonberg-Holm's Valentine Trio, Keefe Jackson's Project Project, The Fast Citizens, The Jeb Bishop Trio, Jason Adasievicz's Rolldown, Jorrit Dijkstra's Flatlands Collective, Chicago Lucern Exchange, Hearts and Minds, Slow Cycle, Outskirts, Darren Johnston's Chicago Quintet, Anchor and others."

-Frank Rosaly Website (

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

Track Listing:


1. Phonetic 7:29

2. The Puzzle 6:31

3. About Looking 8:32


1. Counterbalance 6:09

2. Headway 10:57

3. Innermost 7:02

Related Categories of Interest:

Vinyl Recordings

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Chicago Jazz & Improvisation
Trio Recordings
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