The Squid's Ear Magazine


Roebke, Jason: Four Spheres (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

Brilliantly unusual approaches to jazz scores from Chicago bassist Jason Roebke in a quartet with legendary saxophonist and clarinetist Edward Wilkerson Jr., pianist Mabel Kwan and drummer Marcus Evans, all four also performing on metronome, and Roebke providing low-fi cassette interruptions, a fascinating merging of jazz forms and methods of making the music stop.
 

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Personnel:



Edward Wilkerson Jr.-tenor saxophone, alto clarinet, metronome

Mabel Kwan-piano, metronome

Jason Roebke-double bass, cassettes, metronome

Marcus Evans-drums, metronome


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Label: Corbett vs. Dempsey
Catalog ID: CvsDCD102
Squidco Product Code: 34119

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2023
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Electrical Audio, in Chicago, Illinois, on December 3rd, 2022, by Greg Norman.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Bold new music for quartet led by bassist Jason Roebke, featuring legendary saxophonist and clarinetist Edward Wilkerson Jr., pianist Mabel Kwan, and drummer Marcus Evans. Exploring flow and cessation, Roebke's graphic scores concentrate on various ingenious ways of stopping.

On this maiden recording, Chicago-based bassist Jason Roebke leads a new quartet, featuring his original compositions and a stellar lineup. The music, which was brilliantly recorded at Steve Albini's legendary Electrical Audio and expertly mixed and mastered by Alex Inglizian at Experimental Sound Studio, is performed by veteran reed player Edward Wilkerson Jr., whose own bands Eight Bold Souls and Shadow Vignettes were among the great ensembles of eighties/nineties Chicago, extending the AACM tradition and spotlighting Wilkerson's sensitive improvising. Here, wielding tenor saxophone and alto clarinet, Wilkerson is a commanding - but also supremely collaborative - voice, joining the younger pianist Mabel Kwan and drummer Marcus Evans.

Roebke's scores are rich and flexible, but they concentrate on exploring multifarious ways of stopping, something that's been a feature of the bassist's own improvisation for decades. Investigating the interrelationships between flow and cessation, the quartet is at once organic and halting, Roebke and Evans playing together with great assurance, but occasional interruptions of metronomes or Roebke's lo-fi cassette recordings pushing against the fluidity and expressiveness in revelatory ways.

Roebke's own bass playing has been a feature of scads of ensembles, both working and ad hoc, including Jason Stein Trio, Jeb Bishop Trio, James Falzone's KLANG, Jorrit Dijkstra's Flatlands Collective, Pillow Circles, The Whammies, Keefe Jackson, and Mike Reed's People, Places, and Things. The CD package for Four Spheres comes adorned with a beautiful painting by Rebecca Shore."-Corbett Vs. Dempsey


Artist Biographies

"Edward L. Wilkerson Jr. (born July 27, 1953 in Terre Haute, Indiana) is an internationally recognized American jazz composer, arranger, musician, and educator based in Chicago. As founder and director of the cutting-edge octet 8 Bold Souls, and the 25-member performance ensemble Shadow Vignettes, Wilkerson has toured festivals and concert halls throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, and the Middle East. "Defender", a large-scale piece for Shadow Vignettes, was commissioned by the Lila Wallace/Reader's Digest Fund and featured in the 10th Anniversary of New Music America, a presentation of BAM's Next Wave Festival.

His music can be heard on 14 recordings, including two film soundtracks and the critically acclaimed albums Birth of a Notion, and 8 Bold Souls, both on his own Sessoms Records label.

One of the great saxophone and clarinet players on the Chicago scene, Wilkerson from the 1980s into the new millennium may have become best known as a bandleader and composer, particularly associated with medium- to large-scale projects (somewhat daunting in an era when creative music bandleaders are challenged to keep even small ensembles together). He has also been a major presence in Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), teaching composition at the organization's music school and serving for a time as AACM president.

The AACM collective, with its spirit of community as well as unbridled creativity, has been a predominant nurturing force for Wilkerson and has informed much of his work. He was an original member of the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble (formed by percussionist Kahil El'Zabar upon El'Zabar's 1976 graduation from the AACM school) and remained with the group until 1997, when he was replaced by Ernest "Khabeer" Dawkins. However, while appearing on such Ethnic Heritage Ensemble recordings as Three Gentlemen From Chicago (Moers), Hang Tuff (Open Minds), and Dance With the Ancestors (Chameleon), Wilkerson was also becoming more involved in leading his own projects, which characteristically saw the reedman thinking big. His most ambitious project, Shadow Vignettes, was initiated in 1979; with 25 musicians and incorporating dance, poetry, and visual arts, the ensemble's influences include the big band work of Muhal Richard Abrams, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Sun Ra. Shadow Vignettes released one CD, Birth of a Notion, on the Sessoms Records label in 1985. One of Shadow Vignettes' major pieces is entitled "Defender", commissioned by the Lila Wallace/Reader's Digest Fund and featured in the tenth anniversary of New Music America, presented by the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival.

Wilkerson's best-documented ensemble as a leader is 8 Bold Souls, an octet initiated in January 1985 with a series of Thursday-night concerts at the Chicago Filmmakers performance space. The popularity of the concerts led Wilkerson to establish 8 Bold Souls as a working band, and since their formation, four Souls CDs have been issued: 8 Bold Souls on Sessoms Records, Sideshow and Ant Farm on Arabesque Records, and Last Option on Thrill Jockey. Influenced by the small groups of Duke Ellington and Jimmie Lunceford, 8 Bold Souls also makes plenty of room for adventurous experimentation in the AACM spirit, drawing fully on the unusual sonic possibilities of the group's instrumentation of two woodwinds, trumpet, trombone, cello, tuba, bass, and trap drums. Overall, Wilkerson's work may be heard on 14 recordings, including two film soundtracks.

In addition to his work with 8 Bold Souls, Shadow Vignettes, and the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, Wilkerson has also played with the AACM Big Band, Roscoe Mitchell, Douglas Ewart, the Temptations, Chico Freeman, Geri Allen, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Muhal Richard Abrams, Aretha Franklin, and George Lewis.

Wilkerson's most recent release is the ensemble performance, Frequency, on the Thrill Jockey label. Encompassing distinctive compositions, and high-quality improvisational flights plus World and Native American sonic echoes, this debut CD confirms both the talents of the band Frequency and the continued adaptability of AACM members.

Besides the AACM-link, each participant in this Chicago-based quartet brings different sensibilities to the session. It includes reedist Ed Wilkerson and bassist Harrison Bankhead from 8 Bold Souls. Flautist Nicole Mitchell leads her own groups as well as working as an educator, while veteran percussionist Avreeayl Ra's AACM involvement goes back almost to the cooperative's founding.

Wilkerson has received grants from the Illinois Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, and the Community Arts Assistance Program, and has been cited in numerous music polls.

In his free time, Wilkerson, past president and longtime member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), teaches composition at the AACM School of Music."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Wilkerson)
2/28/2024

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

"Chicago-based, Austin-born pianist Mabel Kwan performs with the new music collective Ensemble Dal Niente, the improvising group Restroy, and as one half of the synth duo Mega Laverne and Shirley. She has commissioned and premiered new works for piano and clavichord which can be heard on her solo albums one poetic switch and Inventions. She has performed nationally and internationally, including concerts at Ravinia, Millennium Park, the Library of Congress, and the Darmstadt Summer Courses for New Music. Mabel is a 2017 3Arts awardee."

-Ensemble Dalniente (http://www.dalniente.com/mabel-kwan/)
2/28/2024

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

"Jason Roebke is a double bassist, improviser and composer living in Chicago. He was born and raised in tiny Kaukauna, Wisconsin in 1974 and began playing electric bass at age 14. His first fascination was with Motown bassist James Jamerson. Roebke's first introduction to jazz was at a summer jazz camp run by local legend, pianist, John Harmon. Here he heard recordings of Charlie Parker and a life long fascination with music was begun. His high school band director had a small jazz CD collection which included Ornette Coleman's "The Art of the Improvisers" and Charles Mingus "Mingus Ah Um" which he listed to endlessly for years.

Entering college at the University of Minnesota for an extremely short stay, he returned to Wisconsin, graduating from a small liberal arts university in 1996. Roebke moved to Madison, WI to study with legendary saxophonist and composer Roscoe Mitchell. There he worked as Mitchell's music copyist for 18 months, spending nearly everyday at Mitchell's home reworking orchestral and chamber music scores with the composer. In 1998, Roebke entered the University of Michigan where he studied with bassist Rodney Whitaker.

In 1999, Roebke moved to Chicago and quickly began working with a new crop of young improvisers. There were early associations with saxophonists Aram Shelton, Dave Rempis and Matt Bauder (also a Michigan alumnus); drummers Tim Daisy and Frank Rosaly and cornetist Josh Berman. Soon after his arrival in Chicago, Roebke organized his first quartet with Bauder, guitarist Jeff Parker, and drummer Chad Taylor. He also began playing with a large improvising ensemble Chicago Improvisers Group with Ken Vandermark, Jeb Bishop, Michael Zerang, Jim Baker among others. He made his first recording as a leader in 2003 with "Rapid Croche" on 482 Music. A trio session with saxophonist Aram Shelton and drummer Tim Daisy, the recording was a critical success. Also during this time, Roebke began his long and continuing association with Fred Lonberg-Holm. Roebke played, toured and recorded with Lonberg-Holm's Terminal 4 and Valentine Trio. Roebke was the instigator of three recordings and a tour with the improvising trio tigersmilk, with cornetist Rob Mazurek and Vancouver drummer Dylan van der Schyff.

In recent years, Roebke has been playing with Jason Adasiewicz's Rolldown, Jason Stein Trio, Jeb Bishop Trio, James Falzone's KLANG, Jorrit Dijkstra's Flatlands Collective, Pillow Circles, and The Whammies, Keefe Jackson, and Mike Reed's People, Places, and Things. The trio of Nate Wooley, Fred Lonberg-Holm and Roebke released two recordings "Throw Down Your Hammer and Sing" and an untitled LP. Roebke and Berlin-based tenor saxophonist Tobias Delius released a duo CD on Nottwo Records in 2012."

-Jason Roebke Website (http://www.jasonroebke.info/biography/)
2/28/2024

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

Marcus Evans is a Chicago drummer, known for the groups David Boykin Expanse, Greg Ward & 10 Tongues, Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble, Living Bridge.

-Discogs (https://www.discogs.com/artist/1370879-Marcus-Evans-2)
2/28/2024

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


Track Listing:



1. Four Spheres 9:57

2. Piano Spacer 7:58

3. Stability and Coda 5:30

4. Quarter Note Equals Eighty 10:05

5. Pulse and Tone 6:41

6. Presque 5:13

7. Starting and Stopping 5:49

Related Categories of Interest:


Improvised Music
Jazz
Free Improvisation
Graphic Scores
Quartet Recordings
Chicago Jazz & Improvisation
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
New in Improvised Music

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Corbett vs. Dempsey.


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