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Williams, Mars Presents: An Ayler Xmas Vol.5 (Astral Spirits  / Soul What Records)

This year's An Ayler Xmas is the 5th in the series from saxophonist Mars Williams, mashing holiday classics with works by saxophonist Albert Ayler, with the amazing sextet of Josh Berman on cornet, Jim Baker on piano, viola & Arp Synth, Brian Sandstrom on bass, guitar & trumpet, Steve Hunt on drums, Peter Maunu on violin and Kent Kessler or Krzysztof Pabian on bass.
 

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product information:


Label: Astral Spirits / Soul What Records
Catalog ID: SW009 / AS194
Squidco Product Code: 31244

Format: 2 CDs
Condition: New
Released: 2020
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
CD 1 recorded live at Hungry Brain, in Chicago, Illinois, on December 15th, 2019, by Dave Zuchowski.

CD 2 recorded Live at DiMenna Center, In New York, New York, on December 21st, 2019, by Marc Uselli.


Personnel:

Mars Williams-Sax, Suona, Toy Instruments

Josh Berman-Cornet

Jim Baker-Piano, Viola, Arp Synth

Brian Sandstrom-Bass, Guitar, Trumpet

Steve Hunt-Drums

Peter Maunu-Violin

Kent Kessler-Bass (Tracks 1 & 2)

Krzysztof Pabian-Bass (Track 3)

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Artist Biographies:

"Mars Williams is an open-minded musician, composer and educator who commutes easily between free jazz, funk, hip-hop and rock, Mars has played and recorded with The Psychedelic Furs, Billy Idol, Massacre, Fred Frith, Bill Laswell, Ministry, Power Station, Die Warzau, The Waitresses, Kiki Dee, Pete Cosey, Billy Squier, DJ Logic, Wayne Kramer, John Scoffield, Charlie Hunter, Kurt Elling, Swollen Monkeys, Mike Clark, Jerry Garcia, Naked Raygun, Friendly Fires, The Untouchables, Blow Monkeys and virtually every leading figure of Chicago's and New York City's "downtown" scene.

John Zorn credits Mars as "one of the true saxophone players--someone who takes pleasure in the sheer act of blowing the horn. This tremendous enthusiasm is an essential part of his sound, and it comes through each note every time he plays. Whatever the situation, Mars plays exciting music. In many ways he has succeeded in redefining what versatility means to the modern saxophone player."

In 2001 Mars received a Grammy Nomination for Best Contemporary Jazz Record with his group Liquid Soul.

Despite his busy touring schedule with Liquid Soul and The Psychedelic Furs, Mars manages to stay active on the Chicago underground improvising scene. In recent years he has toured and recorded with the Peter Brötzmann Tentet, Switchback, Full Blast, Scorch Trio, the Vandermark 5, Boneshaker, Chicago Reed Quartet and Cinghiale, teaming him with such musicians as Ken Vandermark, Hamid Drake, Michael Zerang, William Parker, Ikue Mori, Kent Kessler, Fredric Lonberg Holm, Peter Brotzmann, Joe McPhee, Paal Nilssen-Love, Ab Baars, Mike Reed, Jeb Bishop, Harrison Bankhead, Dave Rempis, Kidd Jordan and Matts Gustafson.

He performs weekly in Chicago along with Jim Baker, Steve Hunt, and Brian Sandstrom in the improvising quartet "Extraordinary Popular Delusions". As a bandleader, he continues to perform and record CDs with his own free-jazz groups, the NRG Ensemble, Witches & Devils, Slam, XmarsX, Mars Trio, Boneshaker and The Soul Sonic Sirkus which features improvising musicians and aerial circus performers. Along with Die Warsau's Van Christie, Mars has started Ratking Music, a production company focusing on music for film and television.

In addition to performing and creating music, Mars has been an educator in the field of woodwinds and jazz improvisation for over thirty years. Mars held the position of Woodwind Instructor at Bard College for two years. In the last few years Mars has presented Master classes and clinics to a number of private and public institutions including, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the University of Chicago, Roosevelt University (Chicago, IL), and June Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art (Auburn, AL)."

-Mars Williams Website (http://www.marswilliams.com/about/)
5/18/2022

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

"For more than fifteen years, cornetist, improviser, composer, and music presenter Josh Berman has been an essential contributor to Chicago's active improvised music scene. His work encompasses both developing opportunities for presenting improvised music, and performing in a variety of highly collaborative formats. He's a co-founder of critically acclaimed Umbrella Music, and curator of the Sunday night music series at the Hungry Brain. He's performed as bandleader of his own groups, Josh Berman Trio, Josh Berman's Old Idea, and Josh Berman and His Gang, and as co-leader of Chicago Luzern Exchange.

In addition to his work as bandleader, Berman has performed and recorded with some of the most internationally respected musicians and composers in jazz and improvised music: Bill Dixon, Ab Baars, Keefe Jackson, Joe McPhee, Jason Adasiewicz, Mike Reed, Michael Moore, Ken Vandermark, Frank Rosaly, Rob Mazurek, Jason Stein, Jeb Bishop, Dave Rempis, Michael Zerang, Fred Lonberg-Holm, and Paul Lytton. He is also a frequent collaborator with dance artists; his collaboration with dancer Ayako Kato and musician Jason Roebke was awarded a CROSSCUT grant for New Collaborations in Sound/Movement from Experimental Sound Studio and Links Hall. Berman was named in the DownBeat critics' poll among Rising Stars, Trumpet. He has toured the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan.

In 2009, Berman and his group Old Idea released their first full length CD/LP, Old Idea, on Delmark. Josh Berman and His Gang's There Now, also on Delmark Records, came out in 2012. And 2015 saw the release of Josh Berman Trio's A Dance and A Hop on Delmark. The albums have garnered critical acclaim in publications including The New York Times, DownBeat, Jazz Times, the Chicago Reader, and the Chicago Tribune."

-Josh Berman Website (http://joshberman.net/)
5/18/2022

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

"Jim Baker was born in Chicago a number of years ago and has been playing in and around Chicago and elsewhere in the world for a few decades, mostly on piano and analog synthesizer; mostly in improvisational contexts; in situations involving, amongst others, Fred Anderson, Ken Vandermark, Michael Zerang, Mars Williams, Brian Sandstrom, Steve Hunt, Edward WIlkerson Jr, David Boykin, Rob Mazurek, Guillermo Gregorio, Nicole Mitchell, Vincent Davis, the Thing XXL, Tortoise, Dave Rempis, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Paul Hartsaw, Janet Bean, Damon Short, and numerous others.

For a number of years, Mr Baker was the house pianist at the weekly jam sessions at Fred Anderson's Velvet Lounge; and for most of the past decade, has played weekly with the improvising quartet Extraordinary Popular Delusions (the other three Delusions: Messrs. Williams, Sandstrom, & Hunt) , who currently play nearly every monday night at Beat Kitchen in Chicago."

-Milk Factory Productions (http://www.milkfactoryproductions.com/Jim_Baker.html)
5/18/2022

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

Brian Sandstrom is a Chicago based guitarist and bassist known for his work with NRG Ensemble.

-Squidco 5/18/2022

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

Steve Hunt is a drummer/percussionist in groups Caffeine, FJF, NRG Ensemble, Witches & Devils.

-Discogs (https://www.discogs.com/artist/808799-Steve-Hunt-3)
5/18/2022

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

"Peter Maunu is the archetype 21st Century musician -- a master at using technique and technology to forge great art.

The creative breadth and beauty of Peter Maunu's textural guitar work can best be appreciated by examining his musical roots. He began his career as a classical violinist and concert master, earning a scholarship to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music while still in his early teens. After hearing the groundbreaking work of Hendrix and The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows", Peter became fascinated with the sonic possibilities of the guitar and it soon commanded much of his interest. His orchestral approach to playing has always infused his guitar work.

Peter's musicality and command of many styles has led to recording and live performances with an eclectic group of artists including Airto, Billy Cobham, Jean-Luc Ponty, Heart, L.A. Express, The Pointer Sisters, Wang Chung, Lou Gramm and Bobby McFerrin. In the late 70's, he and several Bay Area friends -- Mark Isham, Patrick O'Hearn, Terry Bozzio -- formed the pioneering instrumental alliance Group 87, which released two ahead-of-its-time albums. Maunu's longtime involvement with composer Mark Isham has encouraged his experimental side, leading to Peter's many contributions in film music. His solo album "Warm Sound in a Gray Field" is a showcase for his adventurous compositional style."

-Spectrasonics (https://www.spectrasonics.net/company/artists/artist.php?id=45)
5/18/2022

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"Kent Kessler (born January 28, 1957 in Crawfordsville, Indiana) is an American jazz double-bassist, best known for his work in the Chicago avant-garde jazz scene.

Kessler, born in Crawfordsville, Indiana, grew up on Cape Cod and began playing trombone at age ten. He and his family moved to Chicago when he was 13, and a few years later Kessler became intensely interested in jazz. While attending St. Mary Center for Learning High School, he began taking lessons from Kestutis Stanciauskas (Streetdancer) in electric bass and jazz theory in the middle of the 1970s. In 1977 he formed the ensemble Neutrino Orchestra with percussionist Michael Zerang and guitarists Dan Scanlan and Norbert Funk. He spent three months in Brazil during 1980-81 and spent time studying intermittently at Roosevelt University in Chicago; he and Zerang also formed a group called Musica Menta, which played regularly at Link's Hall.

Kessler began playing double bass in the 1980s and it became his primary instrument when he was asked in 1985 to join the NRG Ensemble, who toured Europe and recorded for ECM Records under the leadership of Hal Russell until his death in 1992. In 1991, he gigged with Zerang and guitarist Chris DeChiara; in need of a hornist, they called Ken Vandermark, who had been considering leaving the Chicago scene. Kessler and Vandermark would go on to collaborate extensively on free jazz and improvisational projects such as the Vandermark 5, the DKV Trio and the Steelwool Trio. In the 1990s and afterwards he worked with Chicago musicians such as Hamid Drake, Fred Anderson, and Joe McPhee, and also with European musicians such as Peter Brötzmann, Mats Gustafsson, Misha Mengelberg, and Luc Houtkamp.

In 2003, Kessler released a solo album, Bull Fiddle, on Okka Disk. Kessler performs alone on nine of the twelve tracks, and with Michael Zerang on three."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kent_Kessler)
5/18/2022

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

"Krzysztof Pabian is a Chicago-based acoustic & electric bass player, improviser, producer & composer.

Krzysztof hails from his native Poland as a classically-trained bassist. Since coming to United States he has mastered his instrumental facility and musical sensibility with the best teachers and players including Chicago Symphony's Joe Guastafeste, Stephen Lester and Michael Hovnanian, and jazz greats such as Larry Grey, what is dramatically illuminated in the technical and improvisational arena of his playing.

While studying at Roosevelt University and later at renewed Northwestern University, where he graduated with two Masters degrees in classical and jazz music, he participated in several major music festivals such as Spoleto USA and Spoleto Italy, where he performed and recorded for various musical groups. He has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and for several years was a member of Civic Orchestra of Chicago and an array of new music ensembles working with such conductors as Pierre Boulez, Daniel Barenboim, Christoph Eschenbach, Lawrence Foster, Zubin Mehta, Sir Georg Solti, Robert Spano, Christopher Wilkins, Pinchas Zukerman.

While at Northwestern he had a chance to study and play with visiting artists such as Max Roach, Danilo Perez, Peter Erskine, Judy Roberts, Ron Blake and Lincoln Center Jazz Sextet.

He shared the stage in various groups and settings with artists such as Eddie Henderson, Hamid Drake, Mars Williams, Jeb Bishop, Michael Zerang, Dave Rempis, Jason Stein, KT Sullivan, Jon Weber, Mark Walker, Dan Phillips, Ernie Adams, Howard Levy, Rusty Jones, Jarek Smietana, Adam Czerwinski, Jim Baker, Avreeayl Ra, Tim Daisy and Tim Mulvenna among others.

While focusing on improvisational approach, he navigates seamlessly between jazz and classical techniques that contributes for his unique sound and approach.

Krzysztof also produces, mixes and writes for other artists out of his Oknomedia recording studio."

-Krzysztof Pabian Website (https://www.pabian.com/bio/)
5/18/2022

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track listing:


1. The Divine Peacemaker Plays Dreidel In Frightful Weather 12:48

2. The Angels Sing With The Old & New Ghosts In The Manger 15:46

3. Did You Hear They Found Light In Darkness 8:38
sample the album:








descriptions, reviews, &c.

Co-released on Williams' Soul What Records & Astral Spirits,The Psychedelic Furs Saxophonist & Longtime Leading Figure Of Chicago's Avant-Garde Jazz Scene Releases Volume 5 Of His Critically-Praised Holiday Music Series...

"I'm here to tell you that jazz, in the form of a man from Mars, has come to save Christmas...Even if you haven't heard the name Mars Williams before, if you've rocked out to the Waitresses' holiday fave 'Christmas Wrapping' you undoubtedly know the sound of his saxophone... In what has become a twisted tradition... the brass man for The Psychedelic Furs rings in the season...with his unique variations on mashed up holiday music and free jazz ala Albert Ayler... that will melt the brain of any fan with their love for pop and skronk cross-wired... These ain't Christmas carols for traditionalists, but Mars Williams has started a new tradition that seems so right in line with a year that has broken all semblance of normalcy. Regardless, An Ayler Xmas Vol. 5 is wild and unpredictable fun, no matter the times we're in.... Like the previous four volumes, this edition of the Ayler Xmas recordings is a mind-bending romp and comes very highly recommended"

Related Categories of Interest:


Improvised Music
Jazz
Free Improvisation
Chicago Jazz & Improvisation
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Sextet Recordings
Gift Suggestions
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
New in Improvised Music
Recent Releases and Best Sellers


Other Releases With These Artists:
Brotzmann, Peter Chicago Tentet
Ultraman vs. Alien Metron [SINGLE SIDED VINYL]
(Corbett vs. Dempsey)
Hatcher / Maunu / Kirshner
Live at Splice Series
(Kettle Hole Records)
Amado, Rodrigo / This Is Our Language Quartet
Let The Free Be Men
(Trost Records)
Liquid Soul
Liquid Soul Vol. 1
(Ark 21 Records)
Frith, Fred
Crossing Borders (Volume 2 Of The Fred Records Story, 2001-2020) [BOX SET]
(Recommended Records)
Williams, Mars / Vasco Trilla
Spiracle
(Not Two)
Williams, Mars Presents
An Ayler Xmas Vol. 4: Chicago vs. NYC [VINYL]
(Astral Spirits / Soul What Records)
Williams, Mars Presents
An Ayler Xmas Vol. 4: Chicago vs. NYC [2 CDs]
(Astral Spirits / Soul What Records)
Jackson / Baker / Kirshner
So Glossy and So Thin [CASSETTE W/ DOWNLOAD]
(Astral Spirits)
Stirrup + 6 (Lonberg-Holdm / Macri / Rumback)
The Avondale Addition
(Cuneiform)
Rumback, Charles
June Holiday
(Astral Spirits)
Gregorio, Guillermo
Faktura
(Hat [now] ART)
Vinuesa, Juan Jazz Quartet (Vinuesa / Berman / Roebke Avery)
Blue Shots From Chicago
(NoBusiness)
Various Artists
Option 1 [2 CDs]
(Corbett vs. Dempsey)
Boneshaker (Williams / Nilssen-Love / Kessler)
Fake Music
(Soul What Records)
Boneshaker
Thinking Out Loud [VINYL-DAMAGED]
(Trost Records)
Vandermark, Ken (w/ Daisy / Kurzmann / Stadhouders / / Wooley / Yeh)
Momentum 2 & 3 [2 CDs]
(Audiographic Records)
Piet, Matt & His Disorganization (w / Berman / Mazzarella / Daisy)
Rummage Out
(Clean Feed)
Roebke, Jason Octet
Cinema Spiral
(NoBusiness)
Erb, Christoph / Jim Baker / Frank Rosaly
...Don't Buy Him A Parrot...
(Hatology)
Audio One (Vandermark/Adasiewicz/Berman/Bishop/Rempis/Williams/Mazzarrella/Daisy/Macri/Paulson)
The Midwest School [VINYL]
(Audiographic Records)
Chicago Reed Quartet (Mazzarella / Rempis / Williams / Vandermark)
Western Automatic
(Aerophonic)
Brotzmann / McPhee / Kessler / Zerang
Tales Out Of Time
(Hatology)
Various Artists
I Never Meta Guitar Three
(Clean Feed)
Gregorio, Guillermo
Faktura
(Hat [now] ART)
D'Agaro, Daniele
Chicago Overtones
(Hatology)
Gregorio, Guillermo
Degrees Of Iconicity
(Hat [now] ART)
Recommended & Related Releases:
Brotzmann, Peter Chicago Tentet
Ultraman vs. Alien Metron [SINGLE SIDED VINYL]
(Corbett vs. Dempsey)
Hatcher / Maunu / Kirshner
Live at Splice Series
(Kettle Hole Records)
Amado, Rodrigo / This Is Our Language Quartet
Let The Free Be Men
(Trost Records)
Liquid Soul
Liquid Soul Vol. 1
(Ark 21 Records)
Frith, Fred
Crossing Borders (Volume 2 Of The Fred Records Story, 2001-2020) [BOX SET]
(Recommended Records)
Williams, Mars / Vasco Trilla
Spiracle
(Not Two)
Williams, Mars Presents
An Ayler Xmas Vol. 4: Chicago vs. NYC [VINYL]
(Astral Spirits / Soul What Records)
Williams, Mars Presents
An Ayler Xmas Vol. 4: Chicago vs. NYC [2 CDs]
(Astral Spirits / Soul What Records)
Jackson / Baker / Kirshner
So Glossy and So Thin [CASSETTE W/ DOWNLOAD]
(Astral Spirits)
Stirrup + 6 (Lonberg-Holdm / Macri / Rumback)
The Avondale Addition
(Cuneiform)
Rumback, Charles
June Holiday
(Astral Spirits)
Gregorio, Guillermo
Faktura
(Hat [now] ART)
Vinuesa, Juan Jazz Quartet (Vinuesa / Berman / Roebke Avery)
Blue Shots From Chicago
(NoBusiness)
Various Artists
Option 1 [2 CDs]
(Corbett vs. Dempsey)
Boneshaker (Williams / Nilssen-Love / Kessler)
Fake Music
(Soul What Records)
Boneshaker
Thinking Out Loud [VINYL-DAMAGED]
(Trost Records)
Vandermark, Ken (w/ Daisy / Kurzmann / Stadhouders / / Wooley / Yeh)
Momentum 2 & 3 [2 CDs]
(Audiographic Records)
Piet, Matt & His Disorganization (w / Berman / Mazzarella / Daisy)
Rummage Out
(Clean Feed)
Roebke, Jason Octet
Cinema Spiral
(NoBusiness)
Erb, Christoph / Jim Baker / Frank Rosaly
...Don't Buy Him A Parrot...
(Hatology)
Audio One (Vandermark/Adasiewicz/Berman/Bishop/Rempis/Williams/Mazzarrella/Daisy/Macri/Paulson)
The Midwest School [VINYL]
(Audiographic Records)
Chicago Reed Quartet (Mazzarella / Rempis / Williams / Vandermark)
Western Automatic
(Aerophonic)
Brotzmann / McPhee / Kessler / Zerang
Tales Out Of Time
(Hatology)
Various Artists
I Never Meta Guitar Three
(Clean Feed)
Gregorio, Guillermo
Faktura
(Hat [now] ART)
D'Agaro, Daniele
Chicago Overtones
(Hatology)

Search for other titles on the Astral Spirits / Soul What Records label.