Artist Profile

Ches Smith Profiled

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English: Ches Smith at a concert with Marc Rib...

Source: San Francisco Chronicle.

Searching for a common thread running through the far-flung musical endeavors of Brooklyn percussionist Ches Smith might seem like a futile effort. What connects the noise pop of Xiu Xiu with polymorphous singer-songwriter Carla Bozulich and the extended forms of alto saxophonist Tim Berne’s roiling quartet, Snakeoil? The styles and sonic parameters vary tremendously, but Smith treats each situation as an opportunity for exploration.

Fred Lonberg-Holm Profiled

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Fred Lonberg-Holm in 2002

Source: The Pulse.

Avant-garde composer and master cellist keeps jazz fresh and exciting. In the fertile creative music grounds of Chicago, the versatile, overachieving cellist and composer Fred Lonberg-Holm thrives with the ability to stay limber, traversing jazz, classical, rock, pop and the avant-garde. He is the bandleader of the jazz outfit Valentine Trio and a member of numerous ensembles including Vox Arcana and Ballister, and he has collaborated with free-jazz heavyweights like Joe McPhee, Peter Brötzmann and Ken Vandermark.

This Heat Profiled

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Source: Impose Magazine

Charles Bullen, Charles Hayward and Gareth Williams didn’t really get it. But the trio was able to issue a raft of songs between 1979 and 1981 that, considered from just the right vantage point, almost explain the ideological and musical breadth with which punk and post-punk were once perceived. Packed away either on the third floor of Hayward’s parents’ house or eventually at Cold Storage—a converted meat locker in Brixton where This Heat would practice and record—the trio bombarded each other with ideas. Their short stint as a band yielded only a pair of albums—Deceit and an eponymous debut, along with the Health & Efficiency 12”—which Seattle’s Light in the Attic has reissued on its Modern Classics imprint. But few punk or post-punk contemporaries rivaled the catalog’s inventiveness.

Vijay Iyer Profiled

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Source: The New Yorker.

Lately, Iyer, who is forty-four and a Harvard professor, has been the most lauded piano player in jazz. Reviewing Iyer’s record “Break Stuff,” his twentieth, released last February, the critic Steve Greenlee wrote, “He may be the most celebrated musician in jazz.” Iyer appreciates the sentiment, but it makes him uncomfortable, too. “I have never thought of myself as a great pianist,” he told me. “I thought of putting myself in the service of some larger trajectory. For me, every choice is to take us closer to the next choice. I never had formal training and no one ever told me not to do anything on the piano, so I always thought of my progress as a series of accidents.” The observation that one hears often about Iyer, and that is not usually made about a musician whose career is twenty years old, is that he hasn’t yet achieved his potential. A strain of traditional authority appears to have withheld its approval, however. He considers it significant that he has never been invited to play at the Village Vanguard, for example. The history of jazz has white musicians and black musicians, but it doesn’t have brown ones, he said. Iyer is Indian-American.

Krautrock Group Harmonia Profiled

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Source: The New Yorker.

Harmonia was a sort of supergroup, composed of Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Dieter Moebius, and Michael Rother, a guitarist who had played in Neu! and an early incarnation of Kraftwerk. Roedelius, the group’s oldest member, had been a child star in Nazi propaganda films, a conscript in the Pimpfe (the Cub Scouts of the Hitler Youth), and, in the late nineteen-sixties, a founder of the Zodiak Free Arts Lab, in Berlin. Moebius, who died last year, had studied with Joseph Beuys in Düsseldorf. Moebius had had a bit of musical training. Roedelius had had no training at all (though he did have a gift for melody). But together with Conrad Schnitzler, Roedelius and Moebius had formed Kluster, at the Zodiak, in 1969, changing the spelling to “Cluster,” after Schnitzler’s departure, in 1971. That year, Moebius and Roedelius moved to a large, ruined farmhouse in Forst, in Lower Saxony. And, in 1973, Rother took a hiatus from Neu! and joined them.

Paul Bley and the Origins of Free Jazz

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Source: The Globe and Mail.

Mr. Bley found a steady gig at L.A.’s Hillcrest Club and, one night, his drummer, Bill Higgins, asked if two friends – trumpet player Don Cherry and saxophonist Ornette Coleman – could sit in. A risk-taker by nature, the pianist hired the two unknowns sight unseen, he recalled in a 1979 interview. Together these musicians, along with legendary bass player Charlie Haden, rejected the prevailing conventions of their genre and experimented with free jazz.

Nevertheless, this collaboration unlocked a door for Mr. Bley. He had been growing weary of playing tunes whose forms made you go round and round. Mr. Coleman’s pieces, in sharp contrast, were jump-off points, allowing players to solo as long as they wanted, regardless of the form. This was revolutionary.

Kamasi Washington Profiled

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Source: The New York Times.

On a late October afternoon in South Central Los Angeles, Kamasi Washington was facing what is for him an increasingly familiar problem: making a lot of big ideas fit into a single space, even one as large as the nearby Club Nokia, a rock-star-size venue where he would be performing in December. His recent triple album, ‘‘The Epic,’’ is a nearly three-hour suite for a 10-piece jazz band, backed by a 32-piece orchestra and a 20-person choir. Washington’s show promised to be a typical swirl of activity, a sprawling procession of dancers, musicians, DJs and singers unified by the magisterial sound of Washington himself, a 34-year-old tenor saxophonist who has emerged as the most-talked-about jazz musician since Wynton Marsalis arrived on the New York scene three decades ago.