Reviews that mention Chad Taylor

October 16, 2018

A Pride of Lions

The Bridge Sessions 08
TBS 08

Rodrigo Amado/Joe McPhee/Kent Kessler/Chris Corsano

History of Nothing

Trost TR 170

Always up for a challenge American multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee is involved in classic two-horn face-off on these CDs. Recorded about 13 months apart, in different European cities, McPhee, playing tenor saxophone and pocket trumpet, is partnered in the front-line on The Bridge Sessions by French tenor and baritone saxophonist Daunik Lazro, who is as seasoned a Free Jazz veteran as the Yank. Of much younger vintage is Portuguese tenor saxophonist Rodrigo Amado, who McPhee encounters on A History of Nothing. Using soprano saxophone and pocket trumpet on that date, McPhee and Amado, are backed by an expected rhythm section of Americans Kent Kessler on bass and Chris Corsano on drums. However The Bridge backing features Americans Chad Taylor playing drums and mbira, Joshua Abrams’ bass and guembri plus Guillaume Séguron from France on double bass. MORE

September 6, 2018

James Brandon Lewis/Chad Taylor

Radiant Imprints
Off CD 038

Agustí Fernández & Johannes Nästesjö

Like Listening with your Fingertips

Konvoj Records KOR 013

William Parker

Lake of Light –Compositions for AquaSonics

Gotta Let It Out GLIO 19 CD

Jordan/Fielder/Futterman/Swell

Masters of Improvisation

Valid Records VR-1016

Satoko Fujii

This Is It!

Libra 203-049

Something In The Air: The Established Maturity of The Guelph Jazz Festival
MORE

May 27, 2018

Musicianer

Slow Learner
Iluso Records IRCD 08

Established as a valuable part of such ensembles as Ideal Bread, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society and Nate Wooley’s sextet, Brooklyn-based multi-reedist Josh Sinton has decided to showcase his singular talents on the baritone saxophone with the help of a couple of old friends. Drummer Chad Taylor, who has worked with everyone from Cooper Moore to Rob Mazurek and bassist Jason Ajemian, associated with figures such as Dave Rempis and Tim Daisy first joined forces with Sinton during the 1990s in Chicago. Their sonic affiliation and rhythmic sophistication makes Slow Learner’s 10 tracks prime instances of an improvising trio’s art. MORE

December 6, 2017

Eric Revis

Sing Me Some Cry
Clean Feed CF 428 CD

Roberto Ottaviano Quarktet

Sideralis

Dodicilune Dischi Ed 354

Marcelo dos Reis/Eve Risser

Timeless

JACC Records 034

Tim Daisy’s Celebration Sextet

The Halfway There Suite

Relay Recordings 016

Amok Amor

We Know Not What We Do

Intakt CD 279

Something In The Air: Seven Musical Voices for the Future

By Ken Waxman

The year just ending marked one important milestone in musical history. The first so-called jazz record was issued in 1917 by the Original Dixieland Jass Band (ODJB). Obviously that musical designation, which in its century of existence has gone through as many permutations and retrenchments as so-called classical music has in many centuries, is far different then the ODJB’s primitive efforts. But jazz/improvised music continues to evolve, buttressed by new voices. Here is a group of youngish improvisers who will likely still be contributing to the shape of jazz during its 125tn anniversary – and probably for years afterwards. MORE

July 28, 2017

Jaimie Branch

Fly or Die
International Anthem Recording CO 0011

The Bridge Sessions 05

Escape Lane

The Bridge TBS05

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

June 9, 2017

Chicago/London Underground

A Night Walking Through Mirrors
Cuneiform Records RUNE 428

Like a canny car fanatic who soups up his American-made flivver by adding appropriate accelerating parts from foreign autos, this year’s Chicago Underground (CU) Ensemble model is hybrid Anglo-American. CU inventors, cornetist Rob Mazurek and percussionist Chad Taylor, append high-class British engineering from pianist Alexander Hawkins and bassist John Edwards to come up with a model that speeds along with novel ferocity without losing any of the already developed unexpected sonic allusions. MORE

October 21, 2016

Yoni Kretzmer

Five
Out Now ONR 026

Perhaps channeling some form of numerology, Israeli tenor saxophonist Yonni Kretzmer has crafted another in his collection of Free Jazz showpiece by exploring the validity of a multi-horn ensemble. Whether the title refers to the number of players or number of compositions – all by the saxophonist – like the faint outlines of an earlier edifice on an adjacent building’s aging wall the integer also brings up memories of The New York Contemporary Five (NYC5).

That rugged early 1960s band had a personal similar to this one that, besides the Brooklyn-based Kretzmer, also featured German-born cornetist Thomas Heberer plus bassist Max Johnson, drummer Chad Taylor and trombonist Steve Swell. Swell whose superlative command of all aspects of his horn makes him the first among equals when it comes to solo work, suggest another antecedent to the Kretzmer combo, bands in which trombonist Roswell Rudd was paired with one or the other of the NYC5’s saxophonists: John Tchicai or Archie Shepp. Just because they’re working in a closely related style, though, that doesn’t make the YK5 a NYC5-clone any more than the Coen Brothers are Stanley Kramer because they toil in the same medium. MORE

October 11, 2016

Artist Feature

Jason Stein
By Ken Waxman

Serendipity plays a large part in many musicians’ careers. And it’s serendipity that has meant that bass clarinetist Jason Stein has recently been performing his own music for large arena audiences. That’s because Stein, 39, is the brother of comedy superstar Amy Schumer and his Locksmith Isidore trio has become her opening act, regularly playing for tens of thousands of Schumer fans. Stein isn’t letting these high-profile gigs take over his life though. This month for instance, the night after he plays at Madison Square Garden (MSG) with Schumer, his Hearts and Minds trio with keyboardist Paul Giallorenzo and drummer Chad Taylor, is at the Greenwich House Music School. 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

February 26, 2016

Steve Swell’s Kende Dreams

Hommage à Bartok
Silkheart SHCD 160

Dave Burrell/Steve Swell

Turning Point

NoBusiness NBCD 70

Working forward in his career as one of the busiest trombonists in New York’s Free Music scene, Steve Swell has in the last little while been drawn to program music. That doesn’t mean a turn away from open-ended improv, of which he has performed masterly alongside everyone from Tim Berne to Peter Brötzmann. It’s just like an actor trying out classical as well as contemporary roles he transmits the artistry implicit in one to the other. MORE

December 16, 2015

Lawrence D. “Butch” Morris

Possible Universe
NBR SA Jazz 014

Satoko Fujii Orchestra Berlin

Ichigo Ichie

Libra Records 212 037

Circum Grand Orchestra

12

Circum-Disc CD 1401

Orcheatra Senza Confini/Orkester Brez Meja

Orcheatra Senza Confini/Orkester Brez Meja

Dobialabel

Bertrand Denzler/Onceim

Morph

Confront ccs 37

Something In The Air: Big Bands Redux

By Ken Waxman

Although most people associate big bands with the Swing Era dances and later, jazzier, manifestations such as Nimmons’n’Nine and The Boss Brass, despite the dearth of venues and difficulties of keeping even a combo working steadily, musicians persist in utilizing large ensembles. Like muralists who prefer the magnitude of a large canvas, composers, arrangers and players appreciate the colours and breath available using numerous, well-balanced instruments. 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

March 18, 2015

Nicole Mitchell’s Sonic Projections

The Secret Escapades of Velvet Anderson
RogueArt ROG-056

By Ken Waxman

Although not as overly programmatic as the recording of Intergalactic Beings her Afro-Futuristic Sci-Fi suite, this CD is another instance of how Nicole Mitchell’s burgeoning compositional chops are keeping pace with her acknowledged command of the flute. With The Secret Escapades of Velvet Anderson Mitchell shines in the triple task of honoring one of her mentors, tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson (1929-2010); doing so with a nine-part linked composition in the super-hero vein; and creating all the necessary textures with only a quartet. MORE

December 11, 2014

Taylor Ho Bynum 7-Tett

Navigation (Possibly Abstracts XI & XIII)
Firehouse 12 FH-12-04-01-019

Hans Lüdemann

Die Kunst des Trio 1-5

BMC Records BMC CD 196

Flat Earth Society

FESXLS

Igloo IGL 257

Peter Kowald

Discography

Jazz Werksttatt JW 150

Something In The Air: Outstanding and Unusual Boxed Sets

By Ken Waxman

As the availability of music on different media continues to proliferate, the focus of the durable box set has become equally diverse. No longer does a multi-disc collection have to be definitive or far-ranging. As a matter of fact some of the best, like the ones discussed here, concentrate on certain sequences in an artist’s career. MORE

December 1, 2014

Digital Primitives

Lipsomuch/Soul Searchin’
Hopscotch Records HOP51

One dictionary definition of primitive is “being the first or earliest of the kind”, whereas digital can be defined as “available in electronic form”. Consequently you come to the underlying impetus for this trio, which disseminates in the most contemporary manner sounds produced by acoustic instruments, some of which pre-date modernity.

While that description may make the Digital Primitives sound affectedly retrograde, it shouldn’t be forgotten that the group, which has been together on-and-off for a decade or more, consists of three of the world’s busiest improvisers. Israeli-born Assif Tsahar, who plays tenor saxophone, bass clarinet and m’bira, here spent years in New York working with the likes of William Parker before resettling in Tel Aviv. Drummer Chad Taylor, best known for his affiliation with many Chicago Underground projects, lives in Jersey City. While New Yorker Cooper-Moore, otherwise an erudite piano explorer, here works out on the most primitive of the instruments: diddly-bo, twinger, mouth bow and fretless banjo. MORE

September 21, 2014

Marc Ribot Trio

Live at the Village Vanguard
Pi Recordings 53

While there’s a bit of disengagement involved in imaging that this salute to the Albert Ayler and John Coltrane by a guitar trio was recorded at the temple of Jazz restraint – New York’s Village Vanguard – the high quality of the sounds surmounts puzzlement.

Back in the 1960s the tenor saxophone pioneers actually did gig at the Vanguard and even recorded an LP there. As a matter of fact the trio’s bassist Henry Grimes, in his first go-round in the Jazz spotlight, was featured on that Ayler disc. Authenticity aside, the focus on the set here – two Coltrane lines; two by Ayler; and two standards – is on the capabilities of the whole trio. Someone whose tasty timing and supportive percussion strategy has made him a valuable asset to bands as different as the Chicago Underground, Triptych Myth and Fred Anderson’s combos, Chad Taylor is a percussionist for every groove. Guitarist Marc Ribot is equivalently versatile, having played with leaders running the gamut from Tom Waits and John Zorn to Diana Krall and Neko Case. MORE

January 22, 2013

Chicago Underground Duo

Age of Energy
Northern Spy NS 020

Wadada Leo Smith & Louis Moholo-Moholo

Ancestors

TUM CD 029

Not the most common configuration by any means, the mating of trumpet (or cornet) and drums is usually avoided because of a perceived lack of tonal colors and contrast. That concern hasn’t daunted these duos, with the qualities implicit in Free Music adding to their singular audacity. At the same time each chooses to highlight their brass-percussion output in an original fashion. California-based trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, 72, and South African percussionist Louis Moholo-Moholo, 73, play completely acoustically on their first-ever meeting. In contrast the Chicago Underground Duo (CUD) consisting of corniest Rob Mazurek, 47, and drummer Chad Taylor, 39, utilize a variety of older percussion and up-to-the-minute electronic peripherals to expand their sound. 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

April 26, 2012

Avram Fefer/Eric Revis/Chad Taylor

Eliyahu
Not Two MW-854-2

Hession/Wilkinson/Fell

Two Falls & A Submission

Bo’Weavil weavil 44 CD

Blunt, powerful, unrelieved improvisation is the collective raison d’être of these sessions, which conclusively emphasize the polyphonic textures that arise from the intersection of a mere three acoustic instruments. Naturally it helps that the six players involved are experienced technically and committed to sonic exploration.

The variables are partially transatlantic. Alto and tenor saxophonist Avram Fefer, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Chad Taylor are American; alto and baritone saxophonist Alan Wilkinson, bassist Simon H. Fell and drummer Paul Hession are British. Besides this, the nine tracks Fefer recorded in studio are dedicated to the memory of his late father; the three extended tracks on the other CD were recorded during a rare club gig by Hession, Wilkinson and Fell. MORE

December 17, 2009

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”

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

Tom Abbs & Frequency Response

Lost & Found
Engine e031

Multi-instrumentalist Tom Abbs is likewise multi-talented, as he demonstrates on the 18 structured improvisations on this CD. But of course, Seattle-born, Brooklyn-based Abbs – who plays bass, cello and tuba – couldn’t go it alone.

Frequency Response is a well-balanced ensemble, which is able to express Abbs’ and others’ ideas through the skills of saxophonist/flautist Brian Settles, who also works with drummer Tomas Fujiwara; violinist Jean Cook, part of the Gena Rowlands band; and especially drummer Chad Taylor. Not only is Taylor, one-third of Triptych Myth with Abbs and pianist Cooper-Moore, but he has also worked with musicians as different as veteran Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians’ saxophonist Fred Anderson and experimental cornetist Rob Mazurek. With Settles mostly sticking to tenor saxophone, plus Cook’s fiddle fillips, the quartet is still able to express itself in a variety of forms. 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

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

August 3, 2009

Avram Fefer Trio

Ritual
Clean Feed CF 145 CD

Tony Bevan/Chris Corsano/Dominic Lash

Monster Club

Foghorn FGCD 010

Keune-Schneider-Krämer

No Comment

FMP CD 133

Pedants who classify Free Music according to countries or areas of origin will likely be flummoxed by this trio of saxophone-bass-drums sessions from the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany. While each is striking, not one traffics in the clichés associated with regionally based sounds.

British improvisation, for instance, is often described as “insect music”, made up of miniscule, understated gestures and sounds. Monster Club – note the in-your-face title – is anything but that. Lead by reedist Tony Bevan, who has collaborated as much with pioneering Free Jazz drummer Sunny Murray as Free Music forefather guitarist Derek Bailey, the sounds on the CD’s four tracks are often rip-snorting and riotous. Part of this may be attributed to Bevan’s young associates. Oxford-based bassist Dominic Lash not only works regularly with lower-case improvisers such as violinist Angharad Davies, but also with outgoing North Americans like cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum and percussionist Harris Eisenstadt. Uncompromising saxophonist Paul Flaherty is a frequent playing partner for drummer Chris Corsano, part of the Sunburned Hand of Man avant-rock band. MORE

August 3, 2009

Keune-Schneider-Krämer

No Comment
FMP CD 133

Tony Bevan/Chris Corsano/Dominic Lash

Monster Club

Foghorn FGCD 010

Avram Fefer Trio

Ritual

Clean Feed CF 145 CD

Pedants who classify Free Music according to countries or areas of origin will likely be flummoxed by this trio of saxophone-bass-drums sessions from the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany. While each is striking, not one traffics in the clichés associated with regionally based sounds.

British improvisation, for instance, is often described as “insect music”, made up of miniscule, understated gestures and sounds. Monster Club – note the in-your-face title – is anything but that. Lead by reedist Tony Bevan, who has collaborated as much with pioneering Free Jazz drummer Sunny Murray as Free Music forefather guitarist Derek Bailey, the sounds on the CD’s four tracks are often rip-snorting and riotous. Part of this may be attributed to Bevan’s young associates. Oxford-based bassist Dominic Lash not only works regularly with lower-case improvisers such as violinist Angharad Davies, but also with outgoing North Americans like cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum and percussionist Harris Eisenstadt. Uncompromising saxophonist Paul Flaherty is a frequent playing partner for drummer Chris Corsano, part of the Sunburned Hand of Man avant-rock band. MORE

August 3, 2009

Tony Bevan/Chris Corsano/Dominic Lash

Monster Club
Foghorn FGCD 010

Keune-Schneider-Krämer

No Comment

FMP CD 133

Avram Fefer Trio

Ritual

Clean Feed CF 145 CD

Pedants who classify Free Music according to countries or areas of origin will likely be flummoxed by this trio of saxophone-bass-drums sessions from the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany. While each is striking, not one traffics in the clichés associated with regionally based sounds.

British improvisation, for instance, is often described as “insect music”, made up of miniscule, understated gestures and sounds. Monster Club – note the in-your-face title – is anything but that. Lead by reedist Tony Bevan, who has collaborated as much with pioneering Free Jazz drummer Sunny Murray as Free Music forefather guitarist Derek Bailey, the sounds on the CD’s four tracks are often rip-snorting and riotous. Part of this may be attributed to Bevan’s young associates. Oxford-based bassist Dominic Lash not only works regularly with lower-case improvisers such as violinist Angharad Davies, but also with outgoing North Americans like cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum and percussionist Harris Eisenstadt. Uncompromising saxophonist Paul Flaherty is a frequent playing partner for drummer Chris Corsano, part of the Sunburned Hand of Man avant-rock band. MORE

February 13, 2006

GREGG BENDIAN’S TRIO PIANISSIMO

GREGG BENDIAN’S TRIO PIANISSIMO Change
Aggregate AGCD 004

TRIPTYCH MYTH
The Beautiful
AUM Fidelity AUM 035

Triptych Myth and Trio Pianissimo suggest the parameters of these discs – the classic jazz piano trio – but second glances reveal subtle differences. Innately traditionalist projects, the CDs feature two trios putting a POMO stamp on a configuration which has been an unvarying modern jazz staple for at least 50 years.

With seven of the 10 compositions his and his only instrument the 88s, THE BEAUTIFUL seems designed to prove that pianist Cooper-Moore can function in a semi-conventional environment as an equal part of a three-sided equation. Preceding the band’s name with his own on the other hand, percussionist Gregg Bendian gives notice that although oriented around pianist Steve Hunt, CHANGE reflects Bendian’s ideas. Except for Thelonious Monk’s “Gallop’s Gallop” and a brief Hunt-penned prelude, the drummer also wrote all the material. MORE

November 15, 2005

Guelph Jazz Festival:

Improv On The Move
for CODA

Taking the concept of free-flowing improvisation a step further, one morning at this year’s Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF), 15 musicians performed simultaneously in four different whitewashed rooms of the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre.

The workshop developed this way, according to Ajay Heble, GJF artistic director, because so many musicians wanted to participate. Some – American alto saxophonist Marshall Allan, British pianist Veryan Weston, Québécois guitarist René Lussier and American banjoist Eugene Chadbourne – rooted on a spot and collaborated with whoever came along. Others moved from place to place and up and down the staircase as they played. MORE

November 14, 2005

MARC RIBOT

Spiritual Unity
Pi Recordings PI15

Taking any part of Albert Ayler’s oeuvre as a starting point for improvisation demands courage and nerve, since most of the saxophonist’s lines are as inextricably linked with his treatment of them as Thelonious Monk’s compositions were with his playing. Performing Ayler heads without a saxophonist is even more of a challenge, since the late Clevelander wrote lines that sit most comfortably under a reedist’s fingers. But the four members of the Spiritual Unity aggregation do this and more. MORE

June 7, 2004

STICKS & STONES

Shed Grace
Thrill Jockey thrill 140

DRAGONS 1976
On Cortez
Locust Music 40

Real Jazz has always been a music of apprenticeship. Unlike so-called classical or pop music where younger players can make a reputation and a living by reinterpreting and/or copying the work of their elders, jazz revolves around what you as a player can bring to the band stand.

That’s why SHED GRACE is a major step forward for the Sticks & Stones trio, while ON CORTEZ is very much an apprentice effort. Saxophonist Aram Shelton, bassist Jason Ajemian and drummer Tim Daisy, who gave their band its unique name because all were born in 1976, are gathering the experience in Chicago to put them in the sophomore class of players. Reedist Matana Roberts, drummer Chad Taylor -- both of whom spend much of their time in New York -- and bassist Josh Abrams, on the other hand, are already in the senior class. Individually, and collectively as a trio, they’ve developed distinct identities and appear ready to trade the promising for the established designation. MORE

May 31, 2004

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS

Titration
Delmark DG-547

TOM ABBS & FREQUENCY RESPONSE
Conscription
CIMP #288

Tom Abbs and Chad Taylor: remember those names. One day they may be as familiar as Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones or perhaps Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell. For the two young Western-born musicians, who play on both these CDs and lead one each, are prime examples of ascendant thirty-something players who have rejected the false promises of the neo-cons to create their own sounds. Not strident, their compositions and performances, like those created by Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), swing, but also includes the sort of technical and rhythmic advances that didn’t exist in the neo-con favored 1950-1960 period. MORE

April 5, 2004

COOPER-MOORE/TOM ABBS/CHAD TAYLOR

Triptych Myth
Hopscotch 14

THE NECKS
Drive By
Fish of Milk RER NECKS3

Piano, bass and drums combos have been one of the defining configurations of improvised music for more than five decades. But as these two exceptional trio sessions prove, with the right ideas and techniques, there’s still plenty that can be done with this traditional form.

Microtonalists, Australians The Necks do cheat a little bit on DRIVE BY. Using all the resources of a modern studio, keyboard man Chris Abrahams is able to doubletrack himself on piano, electric piano and organ, while drummer Tony Buck adds different percussion and samples. But seemingly tireless bassist Lloyd Swanton still uses his acoustic model to shape the rhythmic foundation of the one, more than hour-long piece that makes up the CD. 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

November 3, 2003

DENNIS GONZÁLEZ NEW SOUTHERN QUINTET

Old Time Revival
Entropy Stereo Records ESR 014

JEFF CHAN
In Chicago
Asian Improv Records AIR 0063

Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Music (AACM) exemplar, and its southern roots, underlines the creativity of the combos on both these discs.

Although only three of the nine players involved are AACM members -- the late trumpeter Ameen Muhammad, bassist Malachi Favors and drummer Alvin Fielder -- the cooperative archetype that the Chicago association feels must be mixed with creative improvised music is on show each time. 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

September 30, 2002

ROBERTS/ABRAMS/TAYLOR

Sticks & Stones
482 Music 482-1012

Playing improvised music in a trio setting can be the most revelatory, as well as the most humbling, experience for any jazz musician. Not only does each side of the triangle have to fit just perfectly for the music to take its proper shape, but the looming accomplishments of earlier bands in that configuration can make anyone wary.

Working in the most common saxophone-bass-drum arrangement, Chicago natives alto saxophonist Matana Roberts, bassist Josh Abrams and drummer Chad Taylor have set out with this cooperative combo to craft their own sound. Each contributes three tunes to the CD. Overall, though, the result is a split decision. Some of the tracks are interesting; others drag. More seriously it appears that the skills and versatility of Taylor overpower the other two. MORE

May 17, 2002

CHICAGO UNDERGROUND DUO

Axis and Alignment
Thrill Jockey Thrill 106

Stripped down to bare essentials of little more than brass, percussion and electronics, the Chicago Underground Duo still manages to produce a sound similar to what it creates with larger groups with similar names.

Yet, as the band’s foundation, Rob Mazurek on cornet and piano plus drummer and vibes player Chad Taylor seem to be able to take a few liberties with the band formula, so that it sounds more like ambient minimalism than anything you would expect from the City of Broad Shoulders. MORE