The Squid's Ear Magazine

Stein, Jason / Damon Smith / Adam Shead: Volumes & Surfaces (Balance Point Acoustics)

Live recordings from the trio of Chicago improvisers Jason Stein on bass clarinet and Adam Shead on drums & percussion in a trio with double bassist Damon Smith, 3 tracks recorded in the studio at Chicago's Elastic Arts and then 2 live performances captured at The Hungry Brain that same night, an album of rich proportion through the deep strings, dark drums and deep reeds.

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product information:

Label: Balance Point Acoustics
Catalog ID: bpaltd16016
Squidco Product Code: 31736

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2022
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded in Chicago, Illinois, on August 29th, 2021, tracks 1,3,5 at Elastic Arts, and tracks 2,4 at The Hungry Brain, by Bill Harris.


Jason Stein-bass clarinet

Damon Smith-double bass

Adam Shead-drums, percussion

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"This was recorded in August. On the 29th, we did a studio session in the daytime at Elastic Arts, and then we went and played a concert at the Hungry Brain and Bill Harris made a beautiful recording and then he ended up mixing, mastering the thing. Him and Adam are tight. And again, the sound is just beautiful, vivid. And it was really great to hear the quality of those recordings and playing with these two. They had a great duo and have been working in a duo for a while. I did a duo concert with Andrew Scott Young, and then they were playing right afterwards, and I talked to them that night. Jason and I have intersected together over the years. He had been to concerts that I played with Fuchs, and we did a quartet in I think 2008 OR 2009 or something in Philadelphia in a quartet with Jack Wright. Jason is somebody whose music I've kept up with, and I actually buy his albums. There was just this funny time when you could buy all these downloads from EMusic. Do you remember emusic? And you pay $5 a month and you could get all these downloads. And I was getting all the albums that Jason was doing for Clean Feed, which were really great. And then I did a concert with Jason and Josh Berman and Sandy that was really good. And then after that, there was some talk about, hey, we should play with Adam. And then Adam pulled together this trio, which was really great. These recordings came out really well. One of the things that Richard Serra talks about is the volume of his sculptures and the way that the kind of the forged rounds express the volume. You can feel the way to them by looking at them. When you look at Cézanne's still lifes of fruit, like apples or peaches, whatever. He's able to express the volume in the paint. And then that idea of the volume and the way that the bass clarinet expresses the air column of it more than other instruments, like, you feel the space inside that horn more than you do other instruments. And the other cool thing about Jason, I really respect someone who just picks a specific instrument and does not vary from it. It's almost like Sandy never picking up the guitar and playing a note on it, just being really dedicated to it being flat.

Now, this idea of Jason just playing the bass clarinet, I love that idea, and then I like the sense volume he gets from that horn, so that I was able to get titles from the Spanish sculptor Eduardo Chillida. At the Kemper Museum in St. Louis, there's a sculpture, a Chillida sculpture, that's probably my favorite artwork in St. Louis. And I have this kind of photographic memory, especially for art, and I can remember these things, but I can't ever hold the shape of that sculpture in my mind because it's a little too wily with the way it moves. And every time I've gone to look at it, I've got to reset what I think the shape of the sculpture is every time. And I've got a fantastic book of writings by Chillida, and he's mainly talking about the relationships between space and volume and time. And one of the great quotes that he has is that space is the twin brother of time. And then obviously, playing with Adam is really great. I love his playing. And Adam, this is an interesting thing about Adam is Adam and the violin player Gabby Fluke Mogul are the two people who were able to blow me away through a phone speaker. And they both posted videos of them playing in Instagram Stories, And I was just probably eating or drinking or coffee or something and just looking at Instagram Stories in Gabby's tone. Gabby was the first person to really grab me through a phone speaker, and their violin tone just cut right through everything. And it was just like, wow, this is powerful. And I've not been able to play with Gabby. We kind of tried when I was on the East Coast here, but I really want to. And then the next thing, Adam was posting these things that he was playing on Instagram Stories, just like him in the drum practice room playing some rhythmic things, and it was like, Whoa, this is really good. And then I messaged him. So it's been great to work with him because I think he's a very original drummer and he's fairly well educated. And one of the other thing I like about him is he's definitely someone who's working on how to engage with time in improvised music as well, because I think that's always a quandary. I think it's something we haven't solved yet, and it's something to work on always. And so we're finding our way to interface. We don't want to be too tightly connected, but I feel like we have a good time-feel together, and it's a very special situation and relationship."-Damon Smith, from the Free Jazz Collective

Get additional information at The Free Jazz Collective

Artist Biographies

"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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"Damon Smith studied double bass with Lisle Ellis and has had lessons with Bertram Turezky, Joëlle Leandré, John Lindberg, Mark Dresser and others. Damon's explorations into the sonic palette of the double bass have resulted in a personal, flexible improvisational language based in the American jazz avant-garde movement and European non-idiomatic free improvisation. Visual art, film and dance heavily influence his music, as evidenced by his CAMH performance of Ben Patterson's Variations for Double Bass, collaborations with director Werner Herzog on soundtracks for Grizzly Man and Encounters at the End of the World, and an early performance with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

Damon has collaborated with a wide range of musicians, including: Cecil Taylor, Marshall Allen (of Sun Ra's Arkestra), Henry Kaiser, Roscoe Mitchell, Michael Pisaro, Wadada Leo Smith, Marco Eneidi, Wolfgang Fuchs, Peter Brötzmann and Peter Kowald. After many years in the San Francisco Bay Area, and five great years in Houston, Texas working regularly with Alvin Fielder, Sandy Ewen, David Dove & Chris Cogburn, Damon will move to the Boston area in the fall of 2016. Damon has run Balance Point Acoustics record label since 2001, releasing music focusing on transatlantic collaborations between US and European musicians."

-Balance Point Acoustic Website (

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"Adam Shead, who holds a BM in Percussion Performance from Columbia College Chicago, Graduate Certificate in World Performance Studies, and MM in Improvisation from The University of Michigan specializes in interdisciplinary performance, composition, and improvisation. Adam has performed at renowned music festivals such as The Chicago Jazz Festival, The Ann Arbor Edge Fest, and The Present is Present Festival in Amsterdam. Adam has performed alongside such musicians as Mary Oliver, Andrew Drury, John Dikeman, Jasper Stadhouders, Tim Daisy, Josh Berman, Ed Sarath, Dave Rempis, Ada Rave, Benny Green, and John Hollenbeck."

-ArtLitLab (

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Track Listing:

1. Heterodox Symmetry 4:27

2. The Deaf Voice Of The Light 15:04

3. Blue Isn't For Sitting 8:46

4. The Non Dimension Of The Present 11:29

5. Clearly, Blue Is For Sitting 8:32

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Trio Recordings
Chicago Jazz & Improvisation
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