JASON AJEMIAN (& Smokeless Heat)                                                                                            The Art of Dying                                                                                                                      DELMARK DE 581

Tim Haldeman – ts; Noritaka Tanaka – dms; Jason Ajemian – bs; Jaime Branch – tpt; Matt Schneider – gtr; Jason Adasiewicz – mar. Recorded Chicago, 4-6 July, 2007; tk 15 – Milwaukee, WI, 30 May, 2006.

With or Without the Universalator (Birdie’s Dream)/The/Your Shirts/Art/Miss O/9 Car/Of/U’re the Guy (Keith Wood)/Dying/Sackett’s Harbor/Ludicrous Dreams and Solar Guided Lovehandles/Machine Gun Operator/Manisia Lynn/ Heat live on WSME. TT: 60:00.

In his more than half a decade running Delmar(k) Records, Bob Koester has run the gamut in his releases from Ragtime and “Trad” through Blues (both “Rural” and “Urban”) to what is now thought of as “Mainstream” Jazz and on to the Avant Garde – Chicago has been a great city over time for all of that mess! I remember discussing his first “out” recordings when Bob first started releasing them, since it showed the Pythonian dictum of “and now for something completely different”. Koester told me that while he didn’t necessarily “get” what was happening, he felt that the musicians knew what they were doing. As he said, when there were multiple takes, they still ended together and within seconds of their given time limit!! Very perceptive and open. Which brings us to this album.

This is music difficult to categorize, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Ajemian’s core trio of Smokeless Heat (Ajemian, Haldeman, Tanaka) are part of the current and ongoing (White) Chicago improvised music community. What’s on offer is MODERN music that falls within the rubric of “Jazz” – there are melodies, “out” playing, rhythmic sophistication… all those sorts of good things! The album is not made up of “tunes” in the normally accepted sense, but of many effectively complete “bits”. Many of the snippets are between one half to two minutes in length; there are a few longer pieces that fall into the “tune” realm (the opener, “Miss O’, “U’re the Guy”, “Sackett’s Harbor”, “Machine Gun”, “Manisia Lynn” that go from four to six minutes): Then the closer is a 24 minute radio studio recording of the core trio, a genuine work-out! This is worthy and challenging arranged and/or improvised music that bears repeated listening – not for the “Mouldy Phygges”… all you others give it a go. It’ll grow on ya’!

PETER B. LOWRY     [I.A.J.R.C. Journal; Sep ’09; Vol 42, #3 – p. 93]

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