The Squid's Ear Magazine


Ballister: Znachki Stilyag (Aerophonic)

The tenth year of the working and touring international Ballister trio of Dave Rempis on alto & tenor saxophones, Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello & electronics, and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums & percussion, here in an outrageously powerful yet explorative concert at Dom Cultural Center, in Moscow, Russia in 2019, a fierce example of what this band is capable of.
 

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Personnel:



Dave Rempis-alto saxophone, tenor saxophone

Fred Lonberg-Holm-cello, electronics

Paal Nilssen-Love-drums, percussion


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UPC: 5902249002966

Label: Aerophonic
Catalog ID: AR028
Squidco Product Code: 29510

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2020
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack
Recorded at Dom Cultural Center, in Moscow, Russia, on October 30th, 2019, by Maxim Khaikin.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"2020 marks the tenth anniversary of the working trio Ballister, and it's been a productive ten years. Eight previous records, and regular concert dates across North America and Europe, have produced a band that maintains a core sound and energy, while taking the time and space to continually expand their individual voices and respective interests.

In October 2019, these three musicians met up in Europe for the first time since a US tour in late 2017. With the myriad of projects that each one is involved with, having breaks in their output isn't uncommon, but this was the longest one in the band's history. And they dug in deep from the first downbeat, exhilarated to be back at it, and to compare notes on those individual discoveries over the previous two years.

Their tour took them across seven countries including Italy, Poland, Russia, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Norway, but as is often the case, it was the riotous energy of the famed Moscow audience that pushed them to new heights. And while the band has long been known for its seemingly endless reserves of fuel, that's not what comes to the fore here. Not that it's absent - the band still cooks - but it's the laser beam focus of the narrative in these longer form improvisations that truly astounds. Forty minutes disappear into a puff of smoke, and the listener's head whirls from a journey whose seemingly obtuse path through territory as broad as the Wyoming sky becomes eminently clear with the final gesture. Their zigzagging route reveals an underlying logic and structure that's infallible. There was no other way to get here.

On this new record - their first in three years - we hear Rempis adding more space, breath, and humor to his firebreathing as he matures into his mid-career status. Nilssen-Love increasingly incorporates influences from his ongoing work in Ethiopia and Brazil, often trading his remarkable ability to generate rhythmic drive for newfound subtleties. And check out the sheer breadth of Lonberg-Holm's musical experience on display here; someone whose discography spans every genre imaginable over the last four decades, and whose jaw-dropping abilities as a musical chameleon gives him a truly singular voice in the improvised music world.

Znachki Stilyag, a somewhat nonsense title in Russian, roughly translates with the help of google as "Hipster Icons." It was cobbled together from the word "znachki," a type of small lapel pin, and "stilyag," a type of western-oriented, zoot suit-wearing rebel from the Soviet era of the 1950's. Rempis and Lonberg-Holm picked the words up separately during a sightseeing trip around Moscow before their concert, and pieced them together into this record title since they liked the sound of the two combined. "-Aerophonics



This album has been reviewed on our magazine:

The Squid
The Squid's Ear!

Artist Biographies

"Dave Rempis was born in Wellesley, Massachusetts on March 24th, 1975. He began his musical studies at the age of 8, inspired by a family friend who played clarinet in local Greek bands, and by Zoot, of the Muppets Band, to pick up saxophone. During high school he performed in his town, district, and all-state bands and wind ensembles, as well as in a jazz combo at a local music school.

In 1993, Rempis began a degree in classical saxophone at Northwestern University with Frederick Hemke. Finding this environment stifling, Rempis quickly ditched the music degree to pursue studies in anthropology and ethnomusicology. As part of these studies, he spent a year at the International Centre for African Music and Dance at the University of Ghana, Legon, studying African music and ethnomusicology. He also continued to perform with many different types of groups, ranging from highlife and reggae bands while in Ghana, to jazz, free jazz, funk, and contemporary music ensembles at home. He graduated from Northwestern in 1997.

Upon graduating, Rempis decided to focus on performing, and in March of 1998 at the age of 22 was asked to replace veteran saxophonist Mars Williams in the well-known Chicago jazz outfit The Vandermark Five. This opportunity catapulted him to notoriety as he began to tour regularly throughout the US and Europe playing clubs, concert halls, and festivals on both continents.

During his tenure with The Vandermark Five, Rempis also began to develop the many Chicago-based groups and international collaborations for which he's currently known, including The Rempis Percussion Quartet, The Engines, Ballister, Rempis/Abrams/Ra, Wheelhouse, The Rempis/Rosaly Duo, and The Rempis/Daisy Duo. Many of these groups have been documented on the Okkadisk, 482 Music, Not Two, Clean Feed, Solitaire, and Utech record labels. Past collaborations have included performances with Paul Lytton, Axel Dörner, Peter Brötzmann, Hamid Drake, Steve Swell, John Tchicai, Roscoe Mitchell, Fred Anderson, Kevin Drumm, Paal Nilssen-Love, Nels Cline, Tony Buck, and Joe McPhee. Rempis has been named regularly since 2006 in the annual Downbeat Critics's Poll as a "rising star" on alto saxophone, and as a "rising star" and "established talent" on baritone saxophone.

Aside from performing, Rempis is also active as a presenter. Since 2002, he's curated a weekly Thursday-night concert series for the Elastic Arts Foundation. The series has featured over 500 concerts by some of the best improvisers from around the world, while maintaining a focus on up-and-coming local musicians. In late 2005, Rempis helped form the presenters' collective Umbrella Music, working with a small group of musicians and presenters in Chicago to provide better playing opportunities for creative and improvising musicians. As part of this group, he organized the annual Umbrella Music Festival from 2006-2014.

Rempis is also one of the main organizers of the indie-rock Pitchfork Music Festival, a 60,000-person event which takes place in Chicago's Union Park every July."

-Dave Rempis Website (http://daverempis.com/bio/)
2/16/2024

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)
2/16/2024

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

"Paal Nilssen-Love was born in Molde, Norway, Dec 24. 1974, and raised at a jazz club in Stavanger, run by his parents. It was natural to choose his fathers drums as his instrument and jazz as his work. From 1990 on he took actively part in the jazz milieu in Stavanger and joined bands with established musicians such as trumpeter Didrik Ingvaldsen and saxophonist Frode Gjerstad. In many ways, these collaborations were essential as they pointed out the directions for Paal's later musical development and career. During his studies at the Jazz dept at the University in Trondheim, where the first self initiated bands were established, things developed really fast - and Paal was nationally acknowledged at the age of 20.

The forming of the quartet Element in 1993 in many ways represented the start of a new phase in Paal's musical life. Element musically became a platform for several other groups with bassist Flaten and pianist Wiik, and lead to collaborations with Iain Ballamy and Chris Potter, amongst others. Paal moved to Oslo in 1996, where he joined and/or took part in the forming of bands like Vindaloo, SAN, Håkon Kornstad Tio, The Quintet and Frode Gjerstad Trio. He later on got more into self initiated projects and collaborations with Swedish musicians, such as pianist Sten Sandell and saxophonist Mats Gustafsson.

Paal played his first solo concert in 1999, and since then the solo concept has been an important part of his work: "Everyone should try doing some solo work, just to feel who you really are and what gets you going". His solo album "Sticks and stones" was put out in 2001 on SOFA Rec.

Being active in several bands at the same time has always been Paal's deliberate working method. He is constantly conscious about the projects he is in, as his participation in each and one of them is fully dedicated. Playing is not about getting from start to goal, but rather being in an everlasting process, a continuous movement where each new piece of music performed is a prolongation of the latest. Hence, keeping focused and concentrating all energy around what's happening there and then is of greatest importance - as is the freedom in the music, the ability of being free within the expression.

All bands, although various styles and musical versatility in general, represent important pieces that make up a total, and all bands are formed or joined with a clear vision. Today Paal's portfolio includes Atomic, School Days, The Thing, Frode Gjerstad Trio, Sten Sandell Trio, Scorch Trio, Territory Band, FME, and various duo projects such as with reedmen Ken Vandermark, John Butcher, Mats Gustafsson, organist Nils Henrik Asheim and noise wizard Lasse Marhaug. And not to forget the recently joined Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet."

-Paal Nilssen-Love Website (http://www.paalnilssen-love.com/biography.php)
2/16/2024

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


Track Listing:



1. Fuck The Money Changers 38:37

2. Hotel Mary Poppins 9:22

3. Old Worms 8:13

Related Categories of Interest:


Improvised Music
Jazz
Free Improvisation
Collective Free Improvsation
Chicago Jazz & Improvisation
European Improvisation, Composition and Experimental Forms
Trio Recordings
Paal Nilssen-Love
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Aerophonic.


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