Reviews that mention Jeff Parker

July 28, 2017

The Bridge Sessions 05

Escape Lane
The Bridge TBS05

Jaimie Branch

Fly or Die

International Anthem Recording CO 0011

Testament to Chicago’s reputation as an incubator of brass talent, which goes back as far Louis Armstrong apprenticeship there in the 1920s, are these CDs featuring trumpeters Jaimie Branch and Marquis Hill. Like the Windy City`s distinctive and somewhat chaotic transit system each has chosen an individual path of expression, and, perhaps inevitably, each has since decamped for New York.

Balancing rhythmic power, a muscular feel and a hint of repressed violence, which introduce Metal and Punk currents in her playing is Branch on Fly or Die, with it linked to the stellar backing of cellist Tomeka Reid, bassist Jason Ajemian and drummer Chad Taylor. There’s also occasional input from dual cornetists Ben Lamar Gay and Josh Berman and guitarist Matt Schneider. Although conversant with hip-hop textures, on his CD Marquis Hill’s approach is polished into a slick adaptation of moderato Bop, matched with an analogous adjustment from guitarist Jeff Parker, better-known for his Rock-inflected work. At the same time the seven improvisations are put together to measure the partnership between the two Americans and two European musicians, Belgian bassist Joachim Florent, who has been involved with electronic-oriented and notated projects; and French drummer Denis Fournier who has dabbled in World Music as well as playing with Jazzers such as bassist Bernard Santacruz and trumpeter Jean-Luc Cappozzo. MORE

April 7, 2016

Artist Feature

Chad Taylor
By Ken Waxman

Modestly drummer Chad Taylor declares: “Being a band leader is a lot of work and effort for me. Some people have a natural gift for leading a band, but I’m not one of them.” Still the Brooklyn-based percussionist works as often as most leaders. For a start the Windy City-raised Taylor, 43, is, with cornetist Rob Mazurek, one half of the Chicago Underground Duo (CUD) plus the CU’s other iterations. He’s also one-third of Digital Primitives with multi-instrumentalist Cooper-Moore and saxophonist Assif Tsahar, and locally can be found gigging with everyone from Marc Ribot to Steve Swell. Plus he still plays, usually overseas, with his Chicago hommies. “I really enjoy working with people with the goal of creating a language regardless of what style it is,” he affirms. MORE

April 7, 2015

Artist Feature

Rob Mazurek
By Ken Waxman

Death, loss and similar topics aren’t usually the subject of jazz performances. But several of Chicago-based cornetist Rob Mazurek’s most recent CDs have dealt with bereavement to some extent. Return the Tides, for instance, recorded with Black Cube SP (BCSP) is what he describes as a “cathartic modern psychedelic spiritual” honoring his mother Kathleen who died in 2013. Similarly Mother Ode recorded on what would have been his mother’s 72nd birthday, uses cornet, bells, implements, incantation and noise to celebrate her lasting influence on Mazurek’s art. Meantime Alternate Moon Cycles is a salute by Mazurek plus an electric trio to one of his mentors, trumpeter Bill Dixon. MORE

November 16, 2014

Nicole Mitchell

Intergalactic Beings
FPE Records FPE 02

Kyle Bruckmann’s Wrack

Awaits Silent Tristero’s Empire

Singlespeed Music SSM-014

Franz Koglmann

JOIN!

ORF-CD 3177

Michael Lösch

Heroes

Sweet Alps No #

Something In the Air: Mixing Advanced Jazz with Program Music

By Ken Waxman

Creating an entire program of integrated story and sound has long been a hallmark of western music. Just because the 20th and 21st century has given composers not only more instruments and modes to work with but also the possibility of adding aleatoric passages hasn`t lessened such projects’ appeal. Unlike the sometimes ill-conceived so-called jazz musicals of the past, today’s improvisers have the skills needed to link a coherent story line with creative sounds. MORE

June 5, 2012

Jeff Parker Trio

Bright Light in Winter
Delmark DE-2015

By Ken Waxman

Primarily known for his yeoman work in any number of Chicago-based groups from saxophonist Ernest Dawkins’ New Horizons Ensemble to Tortoise, guitarist Jeff Parker is the most accommodating of sidemen and leaders. Bright Light in Winter, one of his infrequent solo dates, demonstrates why.

Nowhere on this agreeable, nine-track trio session does Parker pull rank or try to overshadow stalwart bassist/flutist Chris Lopez or adaptable drummer Chad Taylor, both of whom performed with him in Rob Mazurek’s Chicago Underground combos. Tellingly as well, although both Parker and Lopes use monophonic synthesizer attachments, the organ-like quivers and tremolo echoes never surpass the live musicians’ contributions. Want another example of his collegial spirit? The writing chores are divided, with the bassist contributing three compositions, the drummer two and Parker four. MORE

June 5, 2012

Nicole Mitchell

Awakening
Delmark DE-599

Indigo Trio/Michel Edelin

The Ethiopian Princess meets the Tantric Priest

RogueArt ROG-0034

By Ken Waxman

Even after nearly 60 years as a double for woodwind players – and first choice for a select few – the flute can’t shake off its reputation as a secondary jazz axe. But Nicole Mitchell, who recently moved from Chicago to the West Coast, is doing her best to overcome this stigma. Avoiding the transverse tube’s frillier association, she also stays away from atonal experiments. As these CDs demonstrate, impressive improvisations are created even as the flute retains its lyrical characteristics. MORE

February 20, 2012

Nicole Mitchell

Awakening
Delmark DE 599

Indigo Trio/Michel Edelin

The Ethiopian Princess meets the Tantric Priest

RogueArt ROG-0034

Even after the nearly 60 years since it became an accepted double for many woodwind players – and instrument of choice for a select few – the flute still can’t shake off its reputation as a secondary axe for improvisation. But Nicole Mitchell, who recently moved from Chicago to the West Coast, is doing her best to overcome this stigma. Avoiding the transverse tube’s frillier association, in her writing and playing she also stays away from outright timbral experimentation. Nevertheless, as these CDs, recorded within two months of one another demonstrate, impressive improvisations can be created, even as the gold-plated stick retains its so-called lady-like characteristics. MORE

January 11, 2010

Mike Reed’s People, Places & Things

About Us
482 Music 482-1068

Viktor Tóth

Tartim

Budapest Music Center Records BMC CD 150

Adding special guests to an already existing ensemble can often be a shortcut to confusion. Either the news players don’t mesh with the others or the group loses its individuality and become the backing band to the guests. Leaders of the ensembles on these CDs avoid both drawbacks, yet each does so in a fashion that’s as different as their respective backgrounds.

Chicago drummer Mike Reed, who gigs with everyone from cornetist Rob Mazurek to flautist Nicole Mitchell, also produces contemporary improv concerts in the city and is vice-chairman of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Yet his band People, Places & Things – filled out by alto saxophonist Greg Ward, tenor saxophonist Tim Haldeman and bassist Jason Roebke – is organized to play original material honoring advanced Chicago sounds from 1954-1960. That’s homage not fealty; there’s no overt imitation here. In addition, the guests – trombonist Jeb Bishop, tenor saxophonist David Boykins and guitarist Jeff Parker – play on one track each to further orient the music towards contemporary improv. MORE

January 11, 2010

Viktor Tóth

Tartim
Budapest Music Center Records BMC CD 150

Mike Reed’s People, Places & Things

About Us

482 Music 482-1068

Adding special guests to an already existing ensemble can often be a shortcut to confusion. Either the news players don’t mesh with the others or the group loses its individuality and become the backing band to the guests. Leaders of the ensembles on these CDs avoid both drawbacks, yet each does so in a fashion that’s as different as their respective backgrounds.

Chicago drummer Mike Reed, who gigs with everyone from cornetist Rob Mazurek to flautist Nicole Mitchell, also produces contemporary improv concerts in the city and is vice-chairman of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Yet his band People, Places & Things – filled out by alto saxophonist Greg Ward, tenor saxophonist Tim Haldeman and bassist Jason Roebke – is organized to play original material honoring advanced Chicago sounds from 1954-1960. That’s homage not fealty; there’s no overt imitation here. In addition, the guests – trombonist Jeb Bishop, tenor saxophonist David Boykins and guitarist Jeff Parker – play on one track each to further orient the music towards contemporary improv. MORE

December 17, 2009

Fred Anderson

Staying in the Game
Engine e029

Fred Anderson Quartet

Live at the Velvet Lounge Volume III

Asian Improv AIR 0074

Fred Anderson Trio

Birthday Live 2000

Asian Improv AIR “Official Bootleg”

Fred Anderson

21st Century Chase

Delmark DE 589

Consistency of expression is what has characterized the playing of Chicago tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson over the years. Furthermore, unlike many other musicians, there hasn’t been a subsequent lessening of his powers as he ages. As a matter of fact, now that he’s reached the venerable age of 80, his improvisational skills are at an exalted peak. Listen to these CDs for proof. They were recorded not only at Anderson’s 80th Birthday Bash, but when he was a comparative youngster of 79, 78 and even 71. MORE

December 17, 2009

Fred Anderson

21st Century Chase
Delmark DE 589

Fred Anderson Quartet

Live at the Velvet Lounge Volume III

Asian Improv AIR 0074

Fred Anderson

Staying in the Game

Engine e029

Fred Anderson Trio

Birthday Live 2000

Asian Improv AIR “Official Bootleg”

Consistency of expression is what has characterized the playing of Chicago tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson over the years. Furthermore, unlike many other musicians, there hasn’t been a subsequent lessening of his powers as he ages. As a matter of fact, now that he’s reached the venerable age of 80, his improvisational skills are at an exalted peak. Listen to these CDs for proof. They were recorded not only at Anderson’s 80th Birthday Bash, but when he was a comparative youngster of 79, 78 and even 71. MORE

December 17, 2009

Fred Anderson Trio

Birthday Live 2000
Asian Improv AIR “Official Bootleg”

Fred Anderson Quartet

Live at the Velvet Lounge Volume III

Asian Improv AIR 0074

Fred Anderson

Staying in the Game

Engine e029

Fred Anderson

21st Century Chase

Delmark DE 589

Consistency of expression is what has characterized the playing of Chicago tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson over the years. Furthermore, unlike many other musicians, there hasn’t been a subsequent lessening of his powers as he ages. As a matter of fact, now that he’s reached the venerable age of 80, his improvisational skills are at an exalted peak. Listen to these CDs for proof. They were recorded not only at Anderson’s 80th Birthday Bash, but when he was a comparative youngster of 79, 78 and even 71. MORE

December 8, 2008

Bill Dixon

With Exploding Star Orchestra
Thrill Jockey Thrill 192

Bill Dixon

17 Musicians in Search of a Sound: Darfur

AUM Fidelity AUM 046

More than an elderly lion in winter, 83-year-old trumpeter Bill Dixon seems to have reasserted his place in the jazz firmament during the dozen years since he retired from academe after nearly three decades of teaching at Vermont’s Bennington College.

Both of these big band CDs resulted from a purple patch of creativity in the summer of 2007, when Dixon was able to lead different orchestras in New York and Chicago through some of his extended compositions. Both the 56½-minute “Darfur” suite in New York and the two 18-minute versions of “Entrances” in the mid-West are shaped around a combination of composed work and spontaneously cued solos. The tonal colors emphasized on both are orchestral rather than standard big band arrangements, with woodwinds, strings and miscellaneous percussion prominent. MORE

December 8, 2008

Bill Dixon

17 Musicians in Search of a Sound: Darfur
AUM Fidelity AUM 046

Bill Dixon

With Exploding Star Orchestra

Thrill Jockey Thrill 192

More than an elderly lion in winter, 83-year-old trumpeter Bill Dixon seems to have reasserted his place in the jazz firmament during the dozen years since he retired from academe after nearly three decades of teaching at Vermont’s Bennington College.

Both of these big band CDs resulted from a purple patch of creativity in the summer of 2007, when Dixon was able to lead different orchestras in New York and Chicago through some of his extended compositions. Both the 56½-minute “Darfur” suite in New York and the two 18-minute versions of “Entrances” in the mid-West are shaped around a combination of composed work and spontaneously cued solos. The tonal colors emphasized on both are orchestral rather than standard big band arrangements, with woodwinds, strings and miscellaneous percussion prominent. MORE

October 8, 2008

Variations on a Theme

Guelph Jazz Festival Musicians On Their Own
Extended Play

Barry Guy/Mats Gustafsson/Raymond Strid

Tarfala

Maya MCD0801

Junk Box

Cloudy Then Sunny

Libra Records 203-019

John Zorn

News For Lulu

hatOLOGY 650

Matana Roberts

The Chicago Project

Central Control CC1006PR

Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quartet

Tabligh

Cuneiform Rune 270

AMMÜ Quartet

AMMÜ Quartet
MORE

June 14, 2004

HILMAR JENSSON

Ditty Blei
Songlines SJ-1547-SACD

TED SIROTA’S REBEL SOULS
Breeding Resistance
Delmark DG-551

Activists working for social change might give their supporters a break from weepy folk singers and over earnest sloganeers next time they schedule an anti-globalization rally and instead hire Ted Sirota’s Rebel Souls.

Judging from his song titles and booklet notes, Chicago drummer Sirota has as finely honed a commitment to social justice and against institutionalized oppression as any leftist spokesperson. Plus his Rebel Souls quintet is a top-notch aggregation that swings with wild abandon and manages to mix musical intelligence with foot tapping. Wasn’t it anarchist Emma Goldman who said she wouldn’t to be part of any revolution that didn’t include dancing? MORE

April 9, 2004

JOSH ABRAMS

Cipher
Delmark DG-546

PAT O’KEEFE/JASON STANYEK/SCOTT WALTON/GLEN WHITEHEAD
Tunnel
Circumvention 038

Putting together a drummer-less combo has evolved past novelty to assertion. But the underlying sonic concept and with whom you choose to play, makes an important difference in how your music is perceived. These two quartet session demonstrate that.

Chicago bassist Josh Abrams’ debut disc scores because he had the foresight to recruit a band made up of players of vastly different experience to present a combination of his own and group compositions in 2002. Unfortunately, TUNNEL doesn’t fare as well. It does have cohesion, since all four participants were graduate students at the University of California San Diego School of Music when it was recorded in 1999. Probably for the same reason though, parts of the CD smack of over familiarity, others of academic ostentation. One result is that its seven compositions seem to take up more listening time than CIPHER’s 10 tracks, even though the second disc is actually about four minutes longer. MORE

March 24, 2004

WILLIAM HOOKER/ROGER MILLER/LEE RENALDO

Out Trios Volume One
Atavistic ALP146CD

JEFF PARKER/KEVIN DRUMM/MICHAEL ZERANG
Out Trios Volume Two
Atavistic ALP147CD

Like the dexterity needed for ventriloquism, improvising electro-acoustically often appears to be simpler than it actually is. If you know your instruments, and if you have the right electronic equipment, the reasoning goes, properly mixing and matching the two soundsources to a memorable conclusion shouldn’t be too difficult.

The key word here may be properly, as many less than stellar electro-acoustic CDs attest, and it may also be the reason why neither of these collaborations makes it into the top rank. Similarly, accumulated factors results in one session being notable, while the other, surprisingly, is almost instantly forgettable. MORE

March 1, 2004

FRED ANDERSON

Back At The Velvet Lounge
Delmark DG-549

He was a late starter when it came to a recording, but now in his early seventies, tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson turns out new CDs with regularity of a lunchtime chef at a down-home pancake house. Like that cook, Anderson’s stack of hotcakes are unpretentious, filling, and of uniformly high quality.

Anderson, who has owned, managed and played at his Velvet Lounge club in Chicago’s South Loop for more than 21 years, has dealings with the public on the par with any pancake spot manager. While the jazz he plays at the Lounge is consistently piping hot, he’s enough of as businessman to often vary the menu slightly. MORE

May 12, 2003

TIGERSMILK

Tigersmilk
Family Vineyard 19

JEFF PARKER
Like-Coping
Delmark DG-543

Fame may initially have come to the members of the Chicago Underground bands for their phase-shifting mixture of jazz, rock and electronica dubbed post-rock. But over time the sounds have become more predictable pastiche than innovative.

Far more palatable are the newest trio projects by two of the musicians: founder conetist/electronicist Rob Mazurek, who is one-third of Tigersmilk, which is showcased on a self-titled CD; and guitarist Jeff Parker, who debuts his own group on LIKE-COPING. Without fanzine fanfare, either CD provides a sound picture of Windy City improv eclecticism. Each is also impressive in its own way. MORE

November 19, 2001

THE VANDERMARK 5

Acoustic Machine
Atavistic ALP128CD

JEB BISHOP TRIO/QUARTET
Afternoons
Okka Disk OD 12039

TRICOLOR
Nonparticipant + Milk
Atavistic ALP131CD

Although most of the interest in The Vandermark 5 (V5) has, justifiably, been concentrated on indefatigable saxophonist Ken Vandermark, his MacArthur fellowship and his successful effort to bring jazz to the indie-rock crowd, the quintet has now become an incubator and showcase for two other important players.

During his time with the V5, Jeb Bishop has gone from being former rock guitarist who happens to also play trombone, to a rapidly maturing, individualist 'bone stylist. This is made even clearer on his solo discs like AFTERNOONS. What's more, his approach as well as Vandermark's are made that much more distinctive by the forceful bass playing of Kent Kessler, who has been an important part of the experimental Chicago scene since he joined Hal Russell's NRG Ensemble in the early 1980s. MORE