The Squid's Ear Magazine


NRG Ensemble (directed by Mars Williams): Hold That Thought (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

The 1st of three archival albums from saxophonist Mars Williams' vaults, this 1996 concert in Utrecht with the NRG Ensemble--the band that Williams' carried forward after Hal Russell's passing in 1992--in an unrestrained concert of original material from Williams and fellow saxophonist Ken Vandermark, with Kent Kessler on bass, Steve Hunt on drums, and Brian Sandstrom on bass, guitar & trumpet.
 

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product information:

Personnel:



Mars Williams-reeds, toys

Ken Vandermark-reeds

Brian Sandstrom-bass, electric guitar, trumpet

Kent Kessler- bassSteve Hunt, drums and percussion


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Label: Corbett vs. Dempsey
Catalog ID: CvsDCD106
Squidco Product Code: 34438

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2024
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded live in Utrecht, the Netherlands, in 1996.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"One of three CDs on Chicago's Corbett vs. Dempsey label from the archives of Mars Williams. These previously unreleased recordings document diverse parts of Williams' wildly eclectic oeuvre.

Several months before his untimely death, multi-instrumentalist Mars Williams (1955-2023) reached out to CvsD and asked if we would issue three very special live recordings from his vaults. These include a 1996 concert in Utrecht, Holland, by the NRG Ensemble, the band that Williams inherited from Hal Russell when the latter died in 1992. In NRG circles, this recording is widely regarded as a pinnacle achievement. The band was playing original material by Williams and Ken Vandermark, and they were in top shape, carrying on the wildly inventive, slyly subversive mix of musical directions that Russell had initiated when he formed the band back in 1979.

Another recording comes from 1996, this one a rare duet with drummer Hamid Drake, made in one of the first concerts of the Empty Bottle Jazz and Improvised Music series, in Chicago. Drake and Williams had deep parallels in their personal histories, coming up at the same time in similar musical spheres, rising on the Chicago scene simultaneously in the late '70s while maintaining busy international calendars, touring extensively with different projects including some outside of the realm of improvised music.

The final CD comes from an exceptionally singular night in 2012 at Chicago's Elastic Arts Foundation, a trio formation with bassist Darin Gray and drummer Chris Corsano. Williams felt strongly enough about this concert that he had already posted one set on Bandcamp, but he held back the other set for this incredible posthumous series of archival releases.

With these beautiful records, released in limited edition, CvsD celebrates the productive life of one of improvised music's great figures, someone that John Zorn once wrote had "succeeded in redefining what versatility means to the modern saxophone player." Mars was that and much more. We miss him dearly. These CDs will help keep him in our thoughts and in our ears."-Corbett Vs. Dempsey


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/)
4/10/2024

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

"Born in Warwick, Rhode Island on September 22nd, 1964, Ken Vandermark began studying the tenor saxophone at the age of 16. Since graduating with a degree in Film and Communications from McGill University during the spring of 1986, his primary creative emphasis has been the exploration of contemporary music that deals directly with advanced methods of improvisation. In 1989, he moved to Chicago from Boston, and has worked continuously from the early 1990's onward, both as a performer and organizer in North America and Europe, recording in a large array of contexts, with many internationally renowned musicians (such as Fred Anderson, Ab Baars, Peter Brötzmann, Tim Daisy, Hamid Drake, Terrie Ex, Mats Gustafsson, Devin Hoff, Christof Kurzmann, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Joe McPhee, Paal Nilssen-Love, Paul Lytton, Andy Moor, Joe Morris, and Nate Wooley). His current activity includes work with Made To Break, The Resonance Ensemble, Side A, Lean Left, Fire Room, the DKV Trio, and duos with Paal Nilssen-Love and Tim Daisy; in addition, he is the music director of the experimental Pop band, The Margots. More than half of each year is spent touring in Europe, North America, and Japan, and his concerts and numerous recordings have been critically acclaimed both at home and abroad. In addition to the tenor sax, he also plays the bass and Bb clarinet, and baritone saxophone. In 1999 he was awarded the MacArthur prize for music."

-Ken Vandermark Website (http://kenvandermark.com/2013/10/made-to-break-biography/)
4/10/2024

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 4/10/2024

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

"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)
4/10/2024

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


Track Listing:



1. Straight Time 7:04

2. Hold That Thought 7:53

3. Automatic Platinum 6:24

4. Intro: Pet Peeve 0:17

5. Pet Peeve 7:33

6. 1000 Ft. Drop 7:23

7. Calkwalk 10:27

8. Wire Money 5:17

9. Intro: Cut Flowers 8:14

10. Cut Flowers 0:16

11. Track 11 14:39

Related Categories of Interest:


Improvised Music
Jazz
Free Improvisation
Chicago Jazz & Improvisation
Quartet Recordings
Ken Vandermark
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
New in Improvised Music
Recent Releases and Best Sellers

Search for other titles on the label:
Corbett vs. Dempsey.


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