Reviews that mention Mars Williams

August 13, 2019


Fake Music
Soul What Records 004

Assif Tsahar/William Parker/Hamid Drake

In Between the Tumbling a Stillness

Hopscotch Records HOP 60

Exploring the untapped regions of unfettered Free Jazz within the parameters of the classic reeds-double bass-percussion trio are two groups of seasoned players who in both cases include two American and one who isn’t. Just to make it clear, by the way, unless you’re stuck in a sound rut there’s also no fake music on Boneshaker’s CD. Instead real music intensity is on tap via microscopic examination of timbres and tones from two veterans of the Chicago scene, saxophonist Mars Williams and bassist Kent Kessler as well as Norwegian percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love, who has often collaborated with the two in the past, especially in ensemble featuring Ken Vandermark. Drummer Hamid Drake and bassist William Parker, who singly or together are arguably the busiest rhythm section players in Free Music – though Drake may tie with Nilssen-Love for the title –, join Israeli saxophonist Assif Tsahar on In Between the Tumbling a Stillness. No first-time meeting, Tsahar often worked with Parker and Drake during his tenure in the US at the tune of the century. MORE

December 11, 2017

Dan Phillips Chicago Edge Ensemble

Decaying Orbit
No label No #

Joe Fiedler

Like, Strange

Multiphonics Music MM003

Organized with identical instrumentation and recorded within a month of one another, these CDs are instances of two approaches to contemporary Jazz, New York and Chicago versions. Like eccentric mirror images of one another as well, each disc’s most notable players are a guitarist and a trombonist, with one player of either instrument taking the leadership role. Somehow though the compositions of a returning Chicagoan, guitarist Dan Phillips, matched with top-flight Windy City associates come across with more flight and individuality that the nine tunes composed by Manhattan trombonist Joe Fiedler. MORE

December 1, 2017

Mars Williams presents:

An Ayler Xmas
Soul What Records SWR 0003

Looking for that perfect seasonal gift for someone who follows Free Jazz, but is still conventional enough to celebrate the winter holidays? An Ayler Christmas may be what you need. Organized by Chicago saxophonist Mars Williams, involved in ensembles ranging from the NRG Ensemble to Ken Vandernark’s bands, his septet performs traditional fare mixed with tunes composed by saxophonist Albert Ayler during his short life (1936 -1970). Befitting holiday sentiments the tracks are played with a maximum of joy mixed with a modicum of irony. MORE

October 26, 2016

Trio Red Space

Fields of Flat
Relay Recordings 013

Themroc 3


WhyPlayJazz RS 029

Reducing music to the rudiments of percussion and horns are these two differently constituted trios which like visual artists who only deal with the shape of lines, demonstrate that focused purity can be all that’s needed for notable creativity. Lacking any chordal instrument, each of the trios still overcomes the monochromatic aspects of such performances with unique strategies. Trio Red Space immerses itself in the breakneck tempos and extended techniques of Free Jazz. Meanwhile Themroc 3 traffics in brisk, jubilant fanfares that wouldn’t be out of place in a big top performance. MORE

March 2, 2016


MultiKulti MPI 026

Wacław Zimpel To Tu Orchestra

Nature Moves

ForTune 0036 (025)

Clarinetist Wacław Zimpel could be the poster boy for modern Polish improvised music. Unlike pop music or film idols whose celebrity commonly consists of being able to repeatedly play the same role, the Warsaw-based reedist has created international interest because of his extreme versatility. With playing partners raging from trombonist Steve Swell to kotoist Michiyo Yagi, Zimpel defies simple characterization. MORE

December 21, 2014

NPR 9th Annual Jazz Critics Poll: 2014

Ken Waxman’s ballot


1. Yoni Kretzmer-Pascal Niggenkemper-Weasel Walter, Protest Music (OutNow)

2. Paul Giallorenzo, Force Majeure (Delmark)

3. Kyle Bruckmann, . . . Awaits Silent Tristero's Empire (SingleSpeed Music)

4. Sakata/Lonberg-Holm/Gutvik/Nilssen-Love, The Cliff of Time (PNL)

5. Alexander Hawkins, Step Wide, Step Deep (Babel)

6. François Carrier-Michel Lambert-Alexey Lapin, The Russia Concerts Volume 1/The Russia Concerts Volume 2 (FMR)

7. Rodrigo Amado & Jeb Bishop, The Flame Alphabet (NotTwo) MORE

November 6, 2014

Paul Giallorenzo GitGo

Force Majeure
Delmark Records DE 5015

Unheralded it would seem, except in Chicago where he plays gigs ranging from mainstream Jazz to electro-acoustic experiments, on this CD, pianist Paul Giallorenzo has composed seven tracks which snugly fit a niche perhaps no one else new existed: the sliver between Free Bop and Free Jazz.

Most tracks offer up the heft and development you would have expected from the Jazz Messengers at their peak, but the tunes are tempered with solos that take into account unusual techniques found in more experimental music created since then. Besides Giallorenzo, who has worked with the likes of bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and drummer Tim Daisy, the GitGo quintet gets its’ Jazz Messenger-like power from trombonist Jeb Bishop, reedist Mars Williams, bassist Anton Hatwich and drummer Quin Kirchner. MORE

June 14, 2014

Something Else Musically in Steeltown

A New Music Festival
By Ken Waxman

With local jazz festivals becoming increasingly populist improvised music audiences and musicians yearn for programs oriented towards more experimental sounds. Unexpectedly the situation is being resolved 60 kilometres away in downtown Hamilton. From June 16 to 21 the first SOMETHING ELSE! festival of creative music, takes place at Hamilton Artists Inc. 155 James St. North, when local musicians share the stage with international improvisers.

“We moved to Hamilton two years ago, and while it’s fine to see music in Buffalo and Toronto, eventually there comes a time that you want good things to happen wherever you live,” explains Zula Presents’ festival curator Cem Zafir. Discovering that some of his favorite musicians would be in the area in June, Zafir decided to showcase them in Hamilton alongside deserving local artists. Suddenly the festival was born. MORE

March 3, 2014

Keefe Jackson's Likely So

A Round Goal
Delmark DE 5009


Looking for the Next One.

Cuneiform RUNE 360/361

Robert Marcel Lepage

Le lait maternel.

Ambiances Magnétiques AM 212

Double Trio de Clarinettes

Itinéraire Bis

Between the Lines BTLCHR 71231

Something In The Air: Reed Blends.

By Ken Waxman.

Reed sections have been part of jazz’s performing vernacular since its earliest days. But only with the freedom that arose with modern improvised music in the 1960s were the woodwinds able to stand on their own. In the right hands, with the right ideas, a group consisting only of saxophones and/or clarinets can produce satisfying sounds that don’t need the intervention of a rhythm section or even brass for additional colors. All of the fine discs here demonstrate that. MORE

January 18, 2014


Moments Form
Idyllic Noise IDNO 0010

Henrik Walsdorff/Adam Pultz Melbye/Kasper Tom


Barefoot Records BFREC O22 CD

With a legacy and a style now as established as Hard Bop or Classic Jazz, so called Free Jazz has become a legacy unto itself. Thus when assessing sessions like these, the proper course is not to compare how they sound viz-a-viz other forms of improvised music, but how well the sounds are presented. The answer in both cases is very well indeed.

Although both were recorded in Europe, the cast and orientation of these live trio CDs is decidedly different. For all intents and purpose an unedited pick-up session, Grøn was recorded in Odense, Denmark’s Dexter jazz club, and features Henrik Walsdorff, a visiting alto saxophonist from Berlin, playing with two experienced Danish musicians: bassist Adam Pultz Melbye and drummer Kasper Tom. Both Danes are members of the Barefoot collective, with Melbye having worked with the likes of tenor saxophonist Peter Brötzmann and Tom with distinctive improvisers like bass clarinetist Rudi Mahall. Someone who prefer not to be a band leader, Walsdorff has been a member of bands led by Alexander Von Schlippenbach and Ulrich Gumpert MORE

December 6, 2004


Okkadisk OD 12048

Okkadisk OD 12047

More than five years after it was first organized, German reedist Peter Brötzmann’s mostly Chicago-populated Tentet has become a welcomed presence on the international improv scene.

In the tradition of the Globe Unity Orchestra -- of which Brötzmann was also a member -- the reed-heavy band plays long, involved compositions more concerned with spur of the moment interpretation than elaborate arrangements. Yet, as this matched set of live and studio material demonstrates, the 10-piece band actually sounds best when organized patterns and section work are added to the massed firepower. MORE

February 10, 2003


Atavistic ALP138CD

Science Friction
Screwgun Screwu 013

Just because many -- most? -- of the advances transmitted by jazz-rock fusion had been ground into formula by the early 1980s, doesn’t means that there isn’t scope for exploration with that mixture of highly amplified instruments and improvisation.

Fusion doesn’t have to be what it has become -- bass guitar grandstanding, drummers using more equipment than finesse, and onanistic lead guitar indulgences -- as these two CDs set out to prove. Still its conventions are so strong that you can almost literally hear the musicians struggling to stretch the formula. Whether they prevail is open to interpretation and may depend on your history on the jazz or rock side of the fence. MORE

June 7, 2002


Short Visit To Nowhere
Okka Disk OD 12043

Broken English
Okka Disk OD 12044

Three years after it was first organized and a year after it first toured, Peter Brötzmann’s Chicago Tentet (Plus Two in this case) displays, in these 2000 recordings, that it has become an exemplary example of how to adopt free improv to large aggregations.

With a mixed cast of seven Chicagoans, three members from New York state, a Swede and Brötzmann, a German, it has all the firepower of a traditional big band with its eight horns. Plus, the three-man string section and two percussionists ensure that not only is its bottom covered -- so to speak -- but that the strings can alternately meld with the horns or shore up the rhythm section. Also, while the German reedman wrote two of the compositions, he’s democratic enough to make room for one piece each by Chicago multi-woodwind player Ken Vandermark, Swedish reedist Mats Gustafsson and Chicago cellist/violinist Fred Lonberg-Holm. MORE

August 4, 2000


At The Empty Bottle
Knitting Factory KFW-282

Thirty years after insurgent tenor saxophonist Albert Ayler jumped headfirst into New York's East River, admiring jazzers are still celebrating his achievements.

That's because Ayler's important work reinterpreted the music. The most "out" of "out" jazzers, his playing and composing was made up in equal parts of unbridled energy and recurrent, quasi-childlike ditties. Ayler's performances didn't "swing" -- as the neo-cons understand it -- but lurched along like an out-of-control crowd at a carnival, then abruptly stopped to dance around in juvenile joy. Concurrently Ayler music was the sound of uncharted space travel and of the most primitive marching band, communicated through pure emotion.