The Squid's Ear Magazine

Kirchner, Quin

The Shadows and The Light [2 CDs]

Kirchner, Quin: The Shadows and The Light [2 CDs] (Astral Spirits)

Recorded over 2 days in a Chicago studio in configurations from duos to an octet, drummer Quin Kirchner provides the compositions on this double CD for 11 pieces, alongside works by Frank Foster, Phil Cohran, Sun Ra & Carla Bley, presented as a story or a journey of differing styles and forms, made cohesive by Kirchner's remarkable drumming and coherently diverse interests.

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Includes foldout card with credits and images.

Label: Astral Spirits
Catalog ID: AS135/STR004_CD
Squidco Product Code: 29284

Format: 2 CDs
Condition: New
Released: 2020
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Decade Studios in Chicago, Illinois, on September 16th and 17th, 2019, and at Shape Shoppe and Future House in Chicago, Illinois, in November, 2019, to March, 2020, by Brian Sulpizio, Nick Broste and Quin Kirchner.


Quin Kirchner-drum set, congas, percussion, synthesizer, Kalimba

Rob Clearfield-Wurlitzer, piano

Matt Ulery-acoustic bass, electric bass

Greg Ward-alto saxophone

Nick Broste-trombone, Electro Harmonix Memory Man

Nate Lepine-tenor saxophone, flute

Nick Mazzarella-soprano saxophone, alto saxophone

Jason Stein-bass clarinet

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Sample The Album:

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"My favorite albums have always been the ones that take the listener on a journey. I aim to do that, to create worlds with my albums - universes. I wanted The Other Side of Time to unfold like a story and I've continued that process with The Shadows and The Light.

I'm influenced by so many different styles of creative music and I like to try and bring all those influences into harmony on these records. There is long-form and short-form composition. You have groove and you have free improvisation, sometimes at the same time. I chose to honor some of the greats - Elvin Jones with Frank Foster, Phil Cohran, Carla Bley and Sun Ra - by covering their material, while my original compositions pay homage to the influences of Charles Mingus (Lucid Dream) and Mr. Blount (Jupiter Moon). I also make room for sound explorations (Shadow Intro and Ecliptics).

The title cut is an epic journey all on it's own and a composition I've been working and reworking for many years. I'm happy to have finally brought it to life in it's truest form."-Quin Kirchner

"Chicago drummer Quin Kirchner shows off his multifaceted percussive style on The Shadows and the Light, a double album comprising original material and a gratifying selection of covers that pay tribute to his musical influences. Emphasizing rhythm, free improvisation and structure, the 15 tracks on the album are explored in different formats - from solo to septet - in the company of musicians that demonstrate heaps of potential in their playing.

"Shadow Intro" is a welcoming and animated percussive introduction to a beautiful journey. Kirchner crafts this one alone, aggregating Afro-samba pulsations and synth effects. These rhythmic flavors veer to Afro-Cuban on "Batá Chop", where the bandleader, at the center of the rhythm, plays aesthetic attention to the surroundings created by bassist Matt Ulery, keyboardist Rob Clearfield (on Wurlitzer), and alto saxophonist Greg Ward. The latter, plays mostly by the 'rules', but intensifies the dance with outside expeditions that don't last for long.

The bandleader is attracted to both fervently earnest and sensually exotic rhythms. In the former category we have "Rift", a swinging avant-garde trio effort that pushes the tenor saxophonist Nate Lepine to the foreground, and Carla Bley's "King Korn", from which the trombone of Nick Broste erupts, evoking the spirit of Grachan Moncur III, as well as the perfervid bass clarinet of Jason Stein. Conversely, the sight of foreign landscapes is conjured on titles such as "Sahara", a composition by Sun Ra Arkestra's former member Phil Cohran, here featuring flute, bass clarinet and kalimba; "Planet Earth", a mid-50's mainstream-meets-progressive piece by the venerated keyboardist Sun Ra; and "Jupiter Moon", a Kirchner original that, after starting off as a multi-timbral saxophone constellation, embraces a keen 5/4 groove laid down in support of unisons, garnishing melodies, and concurrent improvisations.

The drummer is in charge of the transition that bridges "Star Clutter" - where five unaccompanied horns participate in a buzzing, ongoing activity - and "Moon Vision", where the rhythm section digs into a hip-hop-ish groove.

Definitely a highlight, "At This Point in Time" salutes the late saxophonist Frank Foster, who penned it, and the great drummer Elvin Jones, who included it in his 1976 Blue Note album Prime Element. It's a remarkable orchestration formulated with an Eastern-tinged introductory section, odd-metered groove, gospelized soul-jazz vibrations and a dash of funk. The shining soloists here are Nick Mazzarella on soprano, Lepine on tenor, and Kirchner, whose expressive idiom precedes the contribution of all horns in ecstasy. Everything ends with an inexorable ostinato.

The album is completed after "Lucid Dream", a beautifully harmonized ballad performed in septet and dedicated to the giant bassist Charles Mingus.

This is an exciting album of rhythmic proficiency and stylistic variety. En route, you'll find countless pleasurable moments to savor with no redundancy."-Filipe Freitas, Jazz Trail

Includes foldout card with credits and images.

Get additional information at Jazz Trail

Artist Biographies

"Quinlan "Quin" Kirchner (born December 14, 1981) is an American jazz and improvisation musician (drums, percussion).

Kirchner received lessons from the age of ten at the Academy of Movement and Music and Merit Music Program of Chicago. With a scholarship from the Basin Street Scholarship, he studied at the University of New Orleans at age 18 with Ricky Sebastian, Jason Marsalis, Troy Davis and Johnny Vidacovich. He earned a bachelor's degree in jazz studies and worked in New Orleans u. a. with Jeff Albert, Irene Sage and Ed Petersen. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Kirchner moved to New York City, where he received his master's degree at the Manhattan School of Music under John Riley graduated before returning to Chicago. There he works since then u. a. with Jeb Bishop, Daniele D'Agaro, AJ Kluth, Greg Ward, Dave Rempis, Matthew Golombisky and the formations flashing., From Beyond (inter alia with Katherine Young, Tim Haldeman), Zing!, Lucky 7s and Elliot Bergman's NOMO. In Germany, Kirchner joined Georg Gräwe and Tobias Delius as part of RUHR.2010 - European Capital of Cultureon. In the field of jazz he was involved between 2006 and 2012 in five recording sessions."

-Wikipedia (Translated by Google) (

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Hailing from Oak Park, IL, pianist, guitarist, composer, and improviser Rob Clearfield grew up steeped in music. After a childhood filled with garage bands, gospel choirs, South American guitar ensembles, and everything in between, Rob moved to Chicago to study at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. During and after college, he embedded himself in the local music scene, residing in the city for fifteen years.

Over the course of his career, Rob has had the privilege of performing with artists such as John Wetton, Patricia Barber, Howard Levy, Makaya McCraven, Marquis Hill, Eighth Blackbird, Greg Ward, and Itamar Borochov, among others. To date, he has released eight recordings of his original music, and currently co-leads the band "Persona" with saxophonist Caroline Davis. Their debut album "Anthems" was released in September 2019 on Sunnyside Records to critical acclaim.

In addition to performing and recording, Rob has also received commissions to compose for theater (Purdue University), film (The Lost Remake of Beau-Guest), and most recently, the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra in central Texas. He currently resides in Paris, France."

-Sounds and Notes Foundation (

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"Chicago based bassist/composer and bandleader, Matt Ulery, has developed an instantly recognizable sound. Known for his sweeping lyricism, unconventional phrase structures, expressionistic emotionalism, Ulery's music, from small, diverse chamber ensembles to full orchestras, is informed by the entire spectrum of jazz, classical, rock, pop, and folk- specifically American, South American, Balkan, and other European folk styles. He has been performing for 20 years on upright, electric, and brass basses.

For a decade, Ulery has been the leader of his own groups and frequent collaborator. Ulery has produced and released 7 critically acclaimed albums of all original music under his name including his most recent double album, "Festival," on his label, Woolgathering Records.

Ulery earned a Master of Music degree at Depaul University and Bachelors degree in music composition at The Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and has played in bands with Kurt Rosenwinkel, Fareed Haque, Howard Levy, Patricia Barber, Goran Ivanovic, Jeff Parker, Zach Brock, Jimmy Chamberlin, Makaya McCraven, Marquis Hill and countless others. As a composer, Ulery has collaborated with ensembles such as Eighth Blackbird, New Millennium Orchestra of Chicago, Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra, and Wild Belle.

When not touring parts of the U.S. and Europe, Matt appears regularly in the Chicago area music venues and has performed with his own groups at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, Chicago Orchestra Hall, Millennium Park Pritzker Pavillion, Chicago Cultural Center, The Krannert Center, Jazz Showcase, The Metro and countless other fine music listening rooms. In addition to performing, recording, and writing, Ulery is on faculty at Loyola University Chicago and gives masterclasses and clinics nationwide."

-Matt Ulery Website (

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"Greg Ward is a saxophonist and composer that was born in Peoria, IL. Currently based in Chicago, Ward has had the opportunity to perform and record with a varied group of artists like Prefuse 73, Lupe Fiasco, Tortoise, William Parker, Andrew D'Angelo, and Mike Reed.

In 2000, Ward began his studies at Northern Illinois University where he worked with Steve Duke, Fareed Haque, Ron Carter, and Joey Sellers. Already interested in composition, having the opportunity to compose for NIU's jazz combos deepened his understanding of the inner-workings of music. Also, working with composer and arranger, Joey Sellers, equipped Ward with some important tools to further explore this new love.

Around his sophomore year in college, Ward started spending many nights performing in the jazz clubs of Chicago. Soon, he would meet another one of his mentors, saxophonist, Fred Anderson, who would later select him to host a jam session at the Velvet Lounge for four years. During this time period, Ward experienced much growth as a performer and composer and developed a vibrant community of performers, artists, dancers, and listeners.

After graduating from NIU in 2004 with a degree in Jazz Studies/Saxophone Performance, Ward moved to Chicago and took advantage of every opportunity that was offered to him. Composing two pieces for the International Contemporary Ensemble, performing a quartet composition for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Chamber Music Series, composing Wings for the Peoria Ballet Company, and being commissioned by the Jazz Institute of Chicago for a new composition, which was performed at the Chicago Jazz Festival in 2009, are just a few of the many experiences that shaped Ward during his years in Chicago.

In 2009, Ward decided to move to New York City. Almost immediately after he arrived in NYC, he began working with JazzReach, an NYC-based jazz education organization that shares multi-media programs throughout the US. In 2010, he would produce his first CD as a leader with his Chicago-based band, Fitted Shards. South Side Story received much critical acclaim, including "Recording of the Year" by the Chicago Tribune. Next, in 2011, Ward formed Phonic Juggernaut, which features Damion Reid on drums and Joe Sanders on bass. Together, they recorded and released a CD on Thirsty Ear Recordings that same year. Also, in 2011, Ward composed and performed a commission from the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra for a concerto for jazz quartet and string orchestra. In 2012, Ward was selected as one of the two New Music USA Van Lier Fellows. In 2014, he received a commission/residency from the Jazz Gallery and premiered Capturing Sunlight, which was an hour-long work for septet and included a short documentary by Diana Quinones Rivera. The Capturing Sunlight project was inspired by the life and work of Preston Jackson.

Recently, Ward has collaborated with another composer, sound designer, and performer, Caleb Willitz. First, they composed the film score for Beresford Bennett's film, Pinch, which was an official selection of the 2015 San Diego Black Film Festival. Second, Ward and Willitz will be releasing an electro-acoustic project, Gaps and Spaces: Synoptic Optiks."

-Greg Ward Website (

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"Nick Broste (trombonist, composer, recording engineer) has been an active player in the Chicago music scene since 1997. His current work centers around the Nick Broste trio, jazz sextet Herculaneum, space rock band Magical Beautiful, Mucca Pazza (a 30 piece punk rock marching band), as well as other ad hoc projects around the city. He has performed with James Falzone, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Jason Ajemian, Jeb Bishop, Keefe Jackson, Anton Hatwich, Marc Unternahrer, Mars Williams, Jim Baker, Josh Berman, Dave Rempis, Marc Riordan, Jamie Branch, Matt Bauder, and many others, as well as bands such as Wilco, Spoon, TV on the Radio, Cursive and Broken Social Scene."

-Constellation Chicago (

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"Chicago-based tenor saxophonist Nate Lepine has been working and performing in numerous musical settings throughout a career spanning 20+ years, participating in several notable ensembles that make up the rich Chicago jazz landscape. Currently he is leading two new ensembles, The Nate Lepine Quartet and the Nate Lepine trio while currently a member of the Nick mozzarella Quintet, The Quin Kirchner Group as well as the critically -acclaimed prog-jazz ensemble, Herculaneum. Mr. Lepine had an early tenure during the 90's in one of Chicago's most revered bands, The NRG Ensemble. In addition he has recorded / performed/ toured internationally with several established acts such as Cursive, Iron and Wine, Smog, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Afghan Wings, 10,000 Maniacs, Pete Yorn, Bobby Bare Jr., Poi Dog Pondering, David Amram, Manishevitz, Sister Machine Gun and others. He is currently working on an album with his Quartet. Nate Lepine has a Bachelor of Music from DePaul University and has been teaching for over a decade."

-Glencoe Academy of Music (

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"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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"Jason Stein was born in 1976 and is originally from Long Island, New York. Stein is one of the few musicians working today to focus entirely on the bass clarinet as a jazz and improvisational instrument. He studied at Bennington College with Charles Gayle and Milford Graves, and at the University of Michigan with Donald Walden and Ed Sarath. In 2005, Stein relocated to Chicago and has since recorded for such labels as Leo, Delmark, Atavistic, 482 Music and Clean Feed. Stein has performed throughout the US and Europe, including performances in festivals in Lisbon, Cracow, Utrecht, Barcelona, Debreccen and Ljubljana. He has had the opportunity to perform with a number of exciting local and international musicians including: Michael Moore, Jeff Parker, Oscar Noriega, Rudi Mahall, Ken Vandermark, Rob Mazurek, Jeb Bishop, Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten, Urs Leimgruber, Pandelis Karayorgis, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Tony Buck, Eric Boren, Kent Kessler, Tobias Delius, Michael Zerang, Michael Vatcher, Peter Brotzman, and Wilbert DeJoode."

-Jason Stein Website (

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Track Listing:


1. Shadow Intro 2:14

2. Bata Chop 10:19

3. At This Point In Time 9:22

4. Rift 3:04

5. Pathways 4:41

6. Sahara 5:39

7. Star Cluster 3:49

8. Moon Vision 4:04


1. Ecliptics 4:11

2. Planet Earth 5:03

3. Jupiter Moon 11:37

4. Horizons 2:54

5. King Korn 5:57

6. The Shadows And The Light 9:29

7. Lucid Dream 4:19

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Chicago Jazz & Improvisation
Trio Recordings
Quartet Recordings
Quintet Recordings
Sextet Recordings
Septet recordings
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
Percussion & Drums
Duo Recordings
Octet Recordings
Staff Picks & Recommended Items

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