MODERN CHICAGO

ROB MAZUREK QUINTET                                                                                                              Sound Is                                                                                                                                         Delmark 586

Rob Mazurek – cnt/keys; John Herndon – dms/perc; Matthew Lux – bs gtr; Josh Abrams – bs vln; Jason Adasiewitz – vbs. [Chicago: unk dates]

As If An Angel Fell From the Sky/The Earthquake Tree/Dragon Kites/The Star Splitter/ The Hill/Le Baiser (The Kiss)/The Lightning Field/Cinnamon Tree/The Dream Rocker/Beauty Wolf/Micro- raptagonafly/Aphrodite Rising/The Field/Nora Grace.   TT: 60:06.

JOSH BERMAN                                                                                                                                 Old Idea                                                                                                                                           Delmark 588

Josh Berman – cnt/Keefe Jackson – ts/Jason Adasiewicz – vbs/Anton Hatwich – bs/Nori Tanaka – dms.   [Chicago; June 2007]

On Account of a Hat/Next Year A/Let’s Pretend/Nori/Next Year B/Almost Late/What Can?Db/Next Year C.   [TT: 50:48]

JASON ADASIEWICZ                                                                                                                     Sun Rooms                                                                                                                                  Delmark 593

Jason Adasiewicz – vbs; Nate McBride – bs/Mike Reed – dms. [Chicago; November 2009]

Get in There/Life/Stake/Rose Garden/You Can’t/Off My Back, Jack/Overtones of China/Warm Valley.   [TT: 45:30]

EXPLODING STAR ORCHESTRA                                                                                                   Stars Have Shapes                                                                                                                     Delmark 595

Rob Mazurek – cnt/comp; Nicole Mitchell – flutes/vo; Matt Bauder – clt/ts; Jeb Bishop – tbn; Jason Stein – bs clt/Greg Ward – as/Jason Adasiewicz – vbs/Mattew Lux – bs gtr/Josh Abrams – bs vln/John Herndon, Mike Reed – dms/Damon Locks – speech/Carrie Biolo – perc/Jeff Kowalski – pno.   [Chicago, June 2010]

Ascension Ghost Impression/ChromoRocker/Three Blocks of Light/Impression #1.   [TT: 50:12]

This is a quartet of relatively recent Delmark releases with some overlapping of personnel – Jason Adasiewicz on vibes is the only person on all four, one under his name. Here is a group of Chicago-based jazz musicians who are a part of the “post-Vandemark generation of Chicago improvisers”*. If there were to be a single word description to be made of the music, it would be “abstract” – in the best sense of the word. We’re more in Ornette Coleman territory than Coleman Hawkins, stuff that often doesn’t swing nut is still interesting! This is jazz, Jim, but (maybe) not as we know it!

Rob Mazurek incorporates synthesized material (sounding like a didgeridoo on the opener) along with “real” instruments in loose-flowing improvised sound-washes. What comes to mind for me locally is The Necks, a piano trio of great popularity here and in Europe – do not know if these pieces are just started up as the spirit moves (like The Necks) or whether or not they have some prior structures to work from. The pieces are generally short with most being around three to five minutes in duration. Structures seem to be VERY loose though well-played. These are not tunes as we know them, Jim!

Josh Berman has an interesting quintet on board for “Old Idea”, his first as a leader – cornet, tenor, vibes, bass, and drums are a different combination to most. Could one posit a parallel to cubism in the visual arts? Possibly. Or are we in deconstructionist territory? This album is a collection of soundscapes that hold up well to repeated listening… not all albums similarly inclined do that for you! Good playing and texture are the result of this gathering that is well worth a listen to these guys as they interweave and interplay with one another.

Vibist Jason Adasiewicz has a trio session here that tends more into the structured, to “tunes” in the broadest sense of the word. He uses a lot of sustain with his vibes so that there is great sound overlap between the notes, taking advantage of the electronic nature of the instrument. There are real tunes here, often with a Monkish flavor, plus three unexpected covers (the final three pieces; (“Off My Back Jack”, “Overtones of China”, “Warm Valley” by Hasaan Ibn Ali, Sun Ra, Duke Ellington), so that one feels at home within the group’s structures. Nothing roars, but it swings and it’s all very civilized.

The final CD is something of an all-star group from a batch of Chicago musicians who all work together in many formats and styles in their musical lives. Here we’re definitely in Sun Ra-like territory of collectively improvising moods within a sparse framework under the leadership of Rob Mazurek. One, of course, does not speak of songs here, but sound manipulations of/by real instruments with some computer-generated additions. The first and third pieces are long, around 20 minutes each; the other two are 4:33 and 6:33. Occasionally, things merge into Ellington-like sound pictures, but mostly things are more diffuse than that. Interesting stuff worth trying out.

PETER B. LOWRY

  • Kevin Whitehead in notes for “Old Idea”.

published: IAJRC JOURNAL; Vol 45, No 2 – June 2012, p.72.

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