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Jackson, Keefe / Jim Baker / Julian Kirshner: Routines (Kettle Hole Records)

Three leaders in the Chicago free improv scene--Keefe Jackson on tenor & sopranino saxophones, Jim Baker on piano & synthesizer and Julian Kirshner on drums--in a collective album of concentrative conversation, a group of equals that function together through close listening and interactive support in expressive playing that leaves ego out of the equation.

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product information:

Limited edition of 300 copies.

Label: Kettle Hole Records
Catalog ID: KTHL007
Squidco Product Code: 32771

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2022
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at The Shape Shoppe, Chicago, Illinois, on September 26th, 2019, by Bill Harris.


Keefe Jackson-tenor saxophone, sopranino saxophone

Jim Baker-piano, synthesizer

Julian Kirshner-drums

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Artist Biographies:

"Keefe Jackson, saxophonist/clarinetist/improvisor/composer, arrived in Chicago in 2001 from his native Fayettevile, Arkansas. He performs regularly in the U.S. and in Europe with many musicians including Pandelis Karayorgis, Tomeka Reid, Tim Daisy, Dave Rempis, Jeb Bishop, Jason Roebke, Jason Adasiewicz, Mike Reed, Jason Stein, Josh Berman, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Frank Rosaly, Oscar Jan Hoogland and Marc Unternaehrer. He has also appeared with Michael Moore, Ab Baars, Michiel Braam, Satoko Fujii, and Anthony Coleman. Bill Meyer (Chicago Reader): "...the impeccable logic of his lines and the richness of his tone leave you wanting more... Jackson's high-register squiggles and coarsely voiced, rippling runs push the limits of the tenor's tonal envelope." Frank van Herk, de Volkskrant (Amsterdam): "[Jackson] has an old-fashioned, warm-woolly sound, and a feeling for melodic lines that take their time in unfolding." He has been mentioned in the DownBeat Critics Poll in the Rising Star Tenor Saxophone category. Recordings are available on Delmark and Clean Feed Records."

-Keefe Jackson Website (

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"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 (

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"Julian Kirshner is a Chicago-based percussionist primarily working in the context of jazz and improvised music. Percussion studies began at age 10 when Kirshner was selected to be a member of the CSO's Percussion Scholarship Group. Over the past 10 years, he has studied with Sarah Allen, David Bloom, Dylan Ryan, and Frank Rosaly. Kirshner also organizes the Improvised Music Series at Myopic Books, a weekly showcase of musicians playing uncharted music in a first-time context."

-Art Lit Lab (

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track listing:

1. More Or Less 9:23

2. Familiar 9:57

3. Daily 5:20

4. ...Scene 9:23

5. Accepted 5:13

6. ...As Anything 4:25

7. Realistically 12:16
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Chicagoan label Kettle Hole records has been up and about for three years now, slowly building a catalogue that every fan of improvised and jazz based music should check out. The trio of Keefe Jackson on tenor and sopranino saxes, Jim Baker on piano and synth plus Julian Kirshner on drums has built a strong rapport with their previous two albums, both on the great Astral Spirits records. Routines is the first on Gerrit Hatcher's Kettle Hole -also their first studio outing.

The name they chose, Routines, for this recording seems like an irony, but most probably it is not. There is no routine, no easy gestures throughout this cd, but, certainly after repeated listening you can clearly understand their bond that leads to an amazing interaction between the musicians. All three are mainstays in the Chicago scene and that makes them open enough to what their comrades have to say by playing. I've always felt, as a listener, that the jazz (and beyond) scene of Chicago was about collective playing, a spirit that I find pretty much alive in their playing.

Obviously this is collective improvisation and the three of them seem to have made a conscious decision to leave their egos out of the recording room. Routines is the album that you definitely enjoy a sense of togetherness. Being a non-musician myself I'm always puzzled by musicians who, consciously, leave the solo tradition out of their playing and perform (or play, you decide) like it is one person you are listening to.

The bluesy sound of Jackson's saxophones is at ease with Baker's synth timbre, providing something like a droney duo for the drums of Kirshner. His polyrhythmic drumming is the backbone of Routines and, at the same time, the compass of where to go next. As much as I adore the drums-piano-sax trios, I must admit that it's when Baker sits behind the synth keyboard, that Routines is at its best. It seemed to me that the more elastic and flexible sound (surely that in Baker's hands) of the synthesizer fits perfectly with the elasticity of the other two musicians' playing.

Someone could say that Routines is a show off, by three musicians, but it is not about their skills. It is a show off for collective playing, gestures that seem like a wink of an eye to the fellow musician so he can pick up the torch and continue as he pleases. All seven tracks seem more like titled references of a continuous work that demands attention."-Fotis Nikolakopoulos, The Free Jazz Collective

Limited edition of 300 copies.

Get additional information at The Free Jazz Collective
Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Collective Free Improvsation
Chicago Jazz & Improvisation
Trio Recordings
New in Improvised Music
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