The Squid's Ear Magazine


Natural Information Society Community Ensemble: Since Time Is Gravity [VINYL 2 LPs] (Eremite)

Expanding the rhythmically exuberant Natural Information Society led by Chicago bassist & guimbri player Joshua Abrams with core members Lisa Alvarado (harmonium), Mikel Patrick Avery (drums) & Jason Stein (bass clarinet), are Hamid Drake (percussion), Josh Berman & Ben Lamar Gay (cornets), Nick Mazzarella & Mai Sugimoto (alto sax & flute), Kara Bershad (harp) and Ari Brown (sax).
 

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UPC: 769791983748

Label: Eremite
Catalog ID: MTE 078-79LP
Squidco Product Code: 33129

Format: 2 LPs
Condition: New
Released: 2023
Country: Belgium
Packaging: Double LP in single Sleeve
Recorded at Electrical Audio, in Chicago, Illinois, on August 24th, 2021, by Greg Norman, and Graham Foundation, in Chicago, Illinois, on May 18th, 2021, by Cooper Crain.


Personnel:



Joshua Abrams-bass, Guimbri

Lisa Alvarado-harmonium

Mikel Patrick Avery-drums

Josh Berman-cornet

Kara Bershad-harp

Ari Brown-tenor saxophone

Hamid Drake-conga, tabla, Tar

Ben Lamar Gay-cornet

Nick Mazzarella-alto saxophone

Jason Stein-bass clarinet

Mai Sugimoto-alto saxophone, flute


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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"The next chapter of the Natural Information Society is here. Since Time Is Gravity, credited to Natural Information Society Community Ensemble with Ari Brown, presents a newly expanded manifestation of acclaimed composer & multi-instrumentalist Joshua Abrams nearly 15 year, 7 albums &-counting flagship ensemble. Joining the core NIS of Abrams (guimbri & bass), Lisa Alvarado (harmonium) Mikel Patrick Avery (drums) & Jason Stein (bass clarinet) are Hamid Drake (percussion), Josh Berman & Ben Lamar Gay (cornets), Nick Mazzarella & Mai Sugimoto (alto saxophones & flute), Kara Bershad (harp) & Chicago living legend of the tenor saxophone Ari Brown. Recorded live to tape at Electrical Audio & The Graham Foundation, cover painting Vibratory Cartography: Nepantla, by Lisa Alvarado. 2xLP on Eremite USA, 2xLP & CD on Aguirre/Eremite Europe. Out 14-04.

Since first developing Natural Information Society in 2010, Joshua Abrams has been gradually expanding the group's conceptual underpinnings, its musical references & the sheer number of the group's members. Its music is, in a sense, an expansive form of minimalism, based in repeated & overlaid rhythmic patterns, ostinatos & modality. Its roots, its scale & its meaning become clearer in time. If time is gravity, it also allows us to carry more. Having begun as fundamentally a rhythm section with Abrams' guimbri at its core, the version here can stretch to a tentet, including six horns.

Abrams has been expanding his minimalism gradually, but he has long understood a key to minimalism's potential: the breadth of its roots in the late 1950s & early 1960s, ranging from the dissatisfaction of young European-stream composers with the limitations of serialism to the simultaneous dissatisfaction of jazz musicians with the dense harmonic vocabulary of bop & hard bop. The former began exploring rhythmic complexity & narrow tonal palates in place of harmonic abstraction (Steve Reich's Drumming, Philip Glass' Music with Changing Parts; perhaps above all Terry Riley's In C & his late '60s all-night organ & loop concerts); the later reduced dense chord changes to scales (signally with Miles Davis' Kind of Blue, but rapidly expanding with John Coltrane's vast project). In the 1950s the LP record opened the world with documentation of Asian & African musics, key influences on both minimalists & jazz musicians. If John Coltrane's soprano saxophone suggested the keening shehnai of Bismillah Khan, the instrument was rapidly taken up by two key minimalists, LaMonte Young & Riley, similarly appreciative of its flexible intonation, the same thing that kept it out of big bands.

George Lewis has described music as "a space for reflection on the human condition". This suggests that, rather than a "distraction", at least some music might serve as a distraction from distraction. It's a focus, a clarity, a awareness, an external invitation to interiority, as if music itself is a model for form & contemplation, an organism contemplating for us or as us. If that is a possibility, & I am sure I have heard such musics, than this music is among them. How many of our rhythms, melodies & harmonies (cultural, historical, biological, psychic) might such music carry, translate & transform in the particulate ecstasy of our own murmuration?"-Stuart Broomer


Artist Biographies

"Bassist, Composer Joshua Abrams has been in the thick of Chicago's vibrant music scene for fifteen years, playing & recording as leader & sideman in projects across the genres. he co-founded the "back porch minimalist" band town & country (thrill jockey/box media) & with Matana Roberts & Chad Taylor the trio sticks & stones (thrill jockety/482 music). He has released four records under his own name as well as two under the moniker "reminder" that navigate the realms of jazz & improvisation, electro-acoustic composition, beatmaking, minimalism and field recordings (eremite/delmark/eastern developments/lucky kitchen). He has appeared on over 50 recordings including records by Fred Anderson, Hamid Drake & Bindu, Bonny "prince" Billy, Nicole Mitchell Black Earth Ensemble and Black Earth Strings, Sam Prekop, Mike Reed's Loose Assembly, Ernest Dawkins Chicago 12, Savath & Savalis, Prefuse 73, Rhys Chatham, Rob Mazurek, Tortoise, the Roots, Edith Frost, Mia Doi Todd, Diverse, Joan of Arc, Lorren Mazzacane Connors, David Grubbs, David Boykin, Chris Conelly, & the Cairo Gang. He has performed with Roscoe Mitchell, Bill Dixon, Von Freeman, Fred Anderson trio, John Tchicai, the Exploding Star Orchestra, Henry Grimes, Axel Dorner, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Peter Evans, Damo Suzuki, Wilbert de Joode, Jandek, Walter Wierbos, Tony Conrad, Bobby Broom, Sean Bergin, Nate Wooley, Craig Taborn, David Stakenas, Fred Hopkins, Rhys Chatham, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Neil Michael Hagerty, Lin Halliday, Raymond Strid, Douglas Ewart, Toumani Diabate, the Chicago Underground Orchestra, Ron Dewar, Baby d, Kevin Drumm, Terry x, Frederick Lvunquist, Jim o'Rourke, Kurt Vonnegut, & Earle Brown. When in chicago he plays weekly with Jeff Parker and John Herndon."

-Nicole Mitchell Website (http://nicolemitchell.com/joshua-abrams)
9/20/2023

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"Lisa Alvarado is a member of the music ensemble Natural Information Society, playing harmonium + percussion and staging her painted backdrops in performances.

Lisa has recently exhibited and performed in The Freedom principle : Experiments in Art and Music 1965 to Now, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago & Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Material Issue, KMAC Museum, Louisville; Serralves em Festa, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto; FIMAV Victoriaville Festival; Fylkingen, Stockholm; Issue Project Room, New York; Mona Bismarck Center, Paris; Cafe Oto, London + others.

She has performed in works by artists such as Simon Starling's At Twilight: A play for two actors, three musicians, one dancer, eight masks (and a donkey costume), The Common Guild, Glasgow & Japan Society, New York; with Theaster Gates and The Black Monks of Mississippi in The Black Monastic residency, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto; 12 Ballads for Huguenot House, Documenta 13, Kassel; The Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge and in Doug Aitken's Station to Station Films.

Her work has been included in Art Record Covers, Taschen books, Cologne and The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now, MCA Chicago and the University of Chicago Press. Natural Information Society music can be found on Eremite Records, Drag City Records, Tak:til Records, itunes and booking with Filho Unico."

-Lisa Alvarado Website (http://lisaalvarado.biz/INFO)
9/20/2023

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"Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Mikel Patrick Avery has been active within the Chicago art scene since moving to the area 8 years ago. Established as a jazz drummer, he is commonly recognized for his orchestral and melodic style of drumming that often involves the use of unconventional "non-musical" objects. Mikel is also a dedicated composer, photographer, producer and educator. In recent years, he has become an integral voice in Rob Mazurek's Moon Cycles, Joshua Abrams's Natural Information Society, The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, and Theaster Gates's Black Monks of Mississippi. He also leads several of his own projects including 1/2 Size Piano Trio, Mikel Patrick Avery *PLAY*, and a new conceptual dance company co-led with artist Amanda Avery called The Something Beautiful Movement Orchestra. Mikel has performed at the Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park, the Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), Documenta 13 (in Kassel Germany), Kepler Studio (Berlin), Guelph Jazz Festival, White Cube (London), MCA Chicago, and he has given a performance for President Barack Obama.

For the 2015 Festival, Kate Dumbleton, Executive & Artistic Director of the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, says that Mikel "is inventing a piece that will open in the form of a parade and likely culminate with a stage performance. . . .What he came up with is exactly why I wanted to pick him [for a commission]. . . .He's going to have this crazy parade - really connected to the neighborhood--a lot of fun."

The commission to Mikel Patrick Avery is a collaboration with the Rebuild Foundation. The project has been developed in conjunction with the Hyde Park Jazz Festival's Story Share Project. For this commission, Mikel has created a new composition in response to stories collected with residents in the neighborhood around the Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative on the South Side of Chicago. We are grateful to the Chicago Community Trust for their support of this project."

-Hyde Park Jazz Festival (https://www.hydeparkjazzfestival.org/mikel-patrick-avery/)
9/20/2023

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"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/)
9/20/2023

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"Kara Bershad, native Chicagoan, began playing harp at age 10 and has studied with some of the world's finest music educators including Edward Druzinsky, Principal Harpist of the Chicago Symphony, Eileen Malone at Eastman School of Music, and Gerard Devos at the Paris Conservatory.

Appearances with orchestra include numerous prestigious performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Ravinia Festival Orchestra, Chicago Philharmonic, Grant Park Music Festival Orchestra, Music of the Baroque, Rochester Philharmonic, and the Chicago Jazz Ensemble.

Kara holds the positions of principal harpist with the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra and Orbert Davis' Chicago Jazz Philharmonic (CJP), and is Professor of Harp at North Park University.Her experience...

Kara is no stranger to sharing the stage with popular celebrity entertainers. Her concert appearances include Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Julie Andrews, Aretha Franklin, The Moody Blues, and Yes, to name a few. Broadway theatre performances include A Little Night Music (Goodman Theatre), Beauty and the Beast (Chicago Theatre), Light in the Piazza (Goodman Theatre), The Producers (Oriental Theatre), and Showboat (Auditorium Theatre).

Kara also has extensive recording studio experience. Among her credits are nationally recognized radio and television commercials for Allstate, Princess Cruise Lines, Budweiser Beer, and McDonald's Corporation. Her performances on harp can also be heard in the Hollywood film scores of My Best Friend's Wedding, Home Alone II, and the Kodak film documentary, Symphony."

-Kara Bershad Website (https://karabershad.com/)
9/20/2023

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"Ari Brown (born February 1, 1944) is an American jazz tenor saxophonist and pianist.

Brown grew up in Chicago and attended Wilson College, where he met musicians such as Jack DeJohnette, Henry Threadgill, Roscoe Mitchell, and Joseph Jarman. He played piano in R&B and soul outfits into the 1960s, then switched to saxophone in 1965. He joined the AACM in 1971, and also played with The Awakening in the early 1970s. In 1974 he lost several teeth in a car crash, and temporarily switched to piano again until he recovered. He played sax later in the 1970s with McCoy Tyner, Don Patterson, and Sonny Stitt. In the 1980s, he worked with Lester Bowie, Von Freeman, Bobby Watson, and Anthony Braxton, and in 1989 he became a member of Kahil El'Zabar's trio."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ari_Brown)
9/20/2023

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"Hamid Drake (born August 3, 1955) is an American jazz drummer and percussionist. He lives in Chicago, IL but spends a great deal of time touring worldwide. By the close of the 1990s, Hamid Drake was widely regarded as one of the best percussionists in jazz and avant improvised music. Incorporating Afro-Cuban, Indian, and African percussion instruments and influence, in addition to using the standard trap set, Drake has collaborated extensively with top free-jazz improvisers. Drake also has performed world music; by the late 70s, he was a member of Foday Musa Suso's Mandingo Griot Society and has played reggae throughout his career.

Drake has worked with trumpeter Don Cherry, pianist Herbie Hancock, saxophonists Pharoah Sanders, Fred Anderson, Archie Shepp and David Murray and bassists Reggie Workman and William Parker (in a large number of lineups)

He studied drums extensively, including eastern and Caribbean styles. He frequently plays without sticks; using his hands to develop subtle commanding undertones. His tabla playing is notable for his subtlety and flair. Drake's questing nature and his interest in Caribbean percussion led to a deep involvement with reggae."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamid_Drake)
9/20/2023

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"Ben Lamar is a prolific composer, vocalist, trumpeter, producer, and music educator. Lamar began his musical journey with the initial influence of his father's diverse vinyl collection and his family's unique music listening rituals. He has been creating music professionally for over 20 years now - performing, recording, producing for, and studying with a number of vital figures in the world of music, including Jazz, Blues, Hip-Hop and Electronic."

-Discogs.com (https://www.discogs.com/artist/1001345-Ben-Lamar)
9/20/2023

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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 (http://www.nickmazzarella.com/about/)
9/20/2023

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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 (http://jasonsteinmusic.com/biography)
9/20/2023

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"Mai Sugimoto is a saxophonist, composer, and active member of Chicago's jazz and improvisational music scene. "A compelling performer" with "dry-champagne tone and lyrical lines" (Chicago Tribune), Sugimoto draws inspiration from her upbringing in Japan and her roots in jazz to compose and perform from her unique multicultural experience. Born/Raised, her debut album (Asian Improv Records, 2018), explores this cultural and musical binary, juxtaposing, among others, a jazz rendition of a Japanese children's song alongside compositions inspired by the American jazz idiom. Sugimoto is also a core member of the quartet Hanami, whose two albums similarly mix Japanese culture into creative music. Mai has performed three times at the Chicago Jazz Festival: in 2015 with Hanami, in 2019 as a leader, and in 2018 with renowned bassist Tatsu Aoki, with whom she frequently plays, including appearances in his Fred Anderson Legacy Band. Her first solo album, monologue (Asian Improv Records) was released in March of 2021."

-Mai Sugimoto Website (https://www.maisugimoto.com/about)
9/20/2023

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Track Listing:



SIDE A



1. Moontide Chorus 6:41

2. Is 11:39

SIDE B



1. Murmuration 17:36

SIDE C



1. Wane 4:30

2. Stigmergy 13:05

SIDE D



1. Immemorial 8:11

2. Wax 3:19

3. Gravity 7:53

Related Categories of Interest:


Vinyl Recordings
Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Jazz
Chicago Jazz & Improvisation
Large Ensembles
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
New in Improvised Music
Recent Releases and Best Sellers

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