AMN Reviews: Kris Davis Infrasound – Save Your Breath (2015; Clean Feed)

cf322cd-cover-1500-600x600Whether in group format, solo, or as leader, Kris Davis is on the rise. Her output over the last 15 years is numerous, yet not prolific. Instead, this Vancouver-born, New-York-based pianist and composer focuses on quality over quantity. Further, like many of her collaborators in the Big Apple’s creative music scene, she is not afraid to eschew the jazz label with which she is often classified.

And speaking of those collaborators, the lineup on this release is rather unique. Joining Davis on piano are Ben Goldberg, Oscar Noriega, Joachim Badenhorst, and Andrew Bishop on various clarinets, her husband Nate Radley on guitar, Gary Versace on organ, and Jim Black on drums. The combination of four clarinets, as well as both piano and organ, helps Davis establish a singular sound.

Indeed, Save Your Breath features solid, contrapunctal composed pieces – orchestral music in the guise of creative jazz. While I am not certain as to whether Davis ever played with Anthony Braxton or studied under him, one can hear a subtle Braxton influence here, perhaps due to Davis’ hanging in circles of Braxton’s ex-students and collaborators, such as Mary Halvorson and Tomas Fujiwara. But what lifts this recording outside of the jazz pigeonhole is Davis’s use of texture and space. Rather than just laying down individual lines, each musician is contributing pieces to an overall theme or sonic landscape.  For instance, the opening track, Union Forever, resembles a cross between chamber music and French progressive rock. Not to say, however, that the group doesn’t break out from time to time, especially on the aptly-titled Whirly Swirly, or go all freak-out, such as on The Gost of Your Previous Fuckup. And Davis is not beyond a spacious interlude, such as on the title track, that borderlines on the electroacoustic.

Davis has been releasing solid material for years, but her trajectory is on the upswing – she keeps getting better and better. Save Your Breath is one of the stronger albums of 2015.


Chicago Scene: August 15-22, 2015

Fred Lonberg-Holm in 2002

This is a weekly overview live avant performances in the Chicago area.  Contact us if you’d like your shows listed.

Saturday, August 15th 2015

4:00PM at Experimental Sound Studio, 5925 N Ravenswood, 773.769.1069 ($10-$8, $25 series pass)
SummerSonic 2015
Ryley Walker
The Singleman Affair

Sunday, August 16th 2015

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($12)
Ora Clementi
Olivia Block

Monday, August 17th 2015

7:30PM at Experimental Sound Studio, 5925 N Ravenswood, 773.769.1069 ($10-$5)
Option Series
Dave Rempis, Edward Wilkerson Jr

9:00PM at Beat Kitchen, 2100 W Belmont, 773.281.4444 (wheelchair-accessible)
Extraordinary Popular Delusions : Jim Baker, Keefe Jackson, Brian Sandstrom, Steve Hunt

Tuesday, August 18th 2015

5:30PM at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E Chicago, 312.280.2660 (wheelchair-accessible)
Tuesdays on the Terrace
Jason Stein Quartet

5:45PM at the St James Cathedral, 65 E Huron, 312.787.7360 (Free)
Here and Now 3
Third Coast Percussion — music by Glenn Kotche, Augusta Read Thomas, David Skidmore

9:00PM at Elastic, 3429 W Diversey, #208, 773.772.3616 ($10)
Stirrup : Fred Lonberg-Holm, Nick Macri, Charles Rumback, special guest Jen Clare Paulson

Wednesday, August 19th 2015

9:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western (Free)
Black Diamond Quartet : Artie Black, Hunter Diamond, Christian Dillingham, Andre Beasley
Sound Of The City Workshop

Thursday, August 20th 2015

6:30PM at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, 201 E Randolph (Free) (wheelchair-accessible)
Move : An Afrofuturistic Ijó
Great Black Music Ensemble, with Ayodele Dance and Drum Corp, Deeply Rooted Dance Company, Kings Eye View

7:30PM at Comfort Station, 2579 N Milwaukee ($5 donation)
Keefe Jackson, Albert Wildeman, Josh Berman, Oscar Jan Hoogland
Reid Coker, Gillian Lisee

Saturday, August 22nd 2015

4:00PM at Experimental Sound Studio, 5925 N Ravenswood, 773.769.1069 ($10-$8, $25 series pass)
SummerSonic 2015
Spirit Writing : Jon Mueller, Jaime Fennelly, Fred Lonberg-Holm
Moon Bros.

7:00PM at the Rhythm Room, 1715 Maple Ave, Evanston IL, 847.491.9723 (Free)
Jimmy Bennington Colour and Sound Trio

For more information, such as directions, as well as upcoming performances, see:,,,,,,,,,,,,

AMN Picks of the Week: Eighth Blackbird / Mike Olson / She Spread Sorrow / N + [ B O L T ] / Seth Chrisman & Nathan McLaughlin

Here is where I post, at a frequency of about once a week, a list of the new music that has caught my attention that week. All of the releases listed below I’ve heard for the first time this week and come recommended.

Eighth Blackbird – Filament (2015)
Mike Olson – Six Projects (2015)
She Spread Sorrow – Rumspringa (2015)
N + [ B O L T ] – N (37) / [ B O L T ] (2015)
Seth Chrisman / Nathan McLaughlin – Olivebridge (2015)

Sound Minds Music Festival in NY

From New York’s Threes Brewing:

Sunday, August 16, 2015 – Monday, August 17, 2015

A new musical event highlighting cutting-edge sound; unclassifiable modern music, informed by jazz and improvised forms, inspired by hip hop, funk, spectralist composition, minimalism and punk… Fiercely original, spontaneously conceived and deliriously human music.

Doors @ 6pm // In Tiny Montgomery & Threes Main Bar

7.00pm: In Tiny Montgomery: Miss Elie Sorbsel Experiment featuring Emilie Lesbros (voice, violin, piano and guitar). For this performance, she is going to mix her Attraction Terrestre album of improvised music with her punk-jazz song writing. Her voice will float between improvisations, sounds, songs, as well as playing guitar, violin, and piano, all the while experimenting with flow, words, extended vocal technique and composition.

8.00pm: In Tiny Montgomery: Bizingas plays the Blues featuring: Brian Drye (trombone/compositions), Kirk Kniffke (cornet) and Jonathon Goldberger (guitar). With special guests Hank Roberts (cello) and Tom Rainey (drums). In this special performance Brian Drye’s Bizingas will premiere a new set of “chamber folk-porch blues” pieces. No electronic synths and gadgets for this acoustic, pared-down set.

9.00pm: In Threes Main Bar: Dustin Carlson’s Air Ceremony featuring: Dustin Carlson (guitar and compositions), Mike Baggetta (guitar), Danny Gouker (trumpet), Kate Gentile (drums) and Josh Sinton (barritone sax and bass clarinet). Dustin Carlson’s Air Ceremony…performing rituals of necessity, we collapse skyward the bone machine of tang squawk; jiggling time, dance rhythms. “Throw yourself, lose your balance, if you fall, that is a good thing.”

10.00pm: In Tiny Montgomery: The Kate Gentile Quartet featuring: Jeremy Viner (clarinet and tenor sax), Matt Mitchell (piano and laptop), Adam Hopkins (bass) & Kate Gentile (drums and compositions). Kate Gentile’s music has been described as “hyper-detailed…designed to sur multi-faceted improvisation”. Her quartet has been exploring a new book of often-dense compositions containing varied forms and unconventional rhythms and harmonies that demand a spectrum of improvisational creativity. This performance will feature a selection of this music as well as a brand-new long-form piece.

11.00pm: In Threes Main Bar: FOLKLORDS featuring: Peter Hanson (saxophone), Nathaniel Morgan (saxophone), Owen Stewart-Robertson (guitar), Jason Ajemian (bass, vocals and compositions) and Jason Nazary (drums). FOLKLORDS is the sound of an outstanding group of New York City improvisors performing six conceptual, visual & sonic landscapes. Meditative Mingus ballads, imaginary conversations between Sun Ran and Thelonious Monk, poetic takes on pop culture, and an elegy for Malachi Ritscher are transmitted via Ajemian’s unique notational methodology.

12.00am: In Tiny Montgomery: Hearing Things featuring: Matt Bauder (saxophone), JP Schlegelmilch (organ) and Vinne Sperrazza (drums). Hearing Things plays original music by Matt Bauder. They heard that sound travels through a world where geography and time are fluid. Their hobbies include surfing the Red Sea and stripping at the drive-in, but they are equally comfortable relaxing with a good book while the technocrats fistfight in the streets. Prudes, ghosts and tittyshakers; the hustlers and sweet-talkers alike, all will join hands and sway to this brand new beat. Bauder himself has been an active member of the Brooklyn music scene for the past ten years where he’s always surprising listeners with his diverse projects when he’s home from touring with bands like the Arcade Fire and Iron and Wine.

William Parker Interview and New 3CD Box

English: Photography of William Parker at Jazz...

From Burning Ambulance:

Bassist/composer William Parker has a new three-CD box, For Those Who Are, Still, out next week on AUM Fidelity. (Buy it straight from the label for $30, or $50 for a copy signed by Parker.) It contains three extended pieces for larger-than-usual ensembles, and a shorter piece built around vocalist Leena Conquest. Some of the music dates back 15 years, while the other pieces are more recent.

DMG Newsletter August 14th, 2015

Keiji Haino 5268002w

From DMG:

William Parker 3 CD Epic with Hamid Drake/Rob Brown/Cooper-Moore..! Darius Jones New Quintet! Liberty Ellman With Steve Lehman/Jonathan Finlayson..! Two from Haino Keiji‘s Seijaku! Korekyojinn & PYN with Tatsuya Yoshida! New from ForTune: Dennis Gonzalez‘ Yells at Eels! Marco Eneidi Steamin’ 4!

Rudi Mahall’s Fusk! Waclaw Zimplel Orchestra! Georg Graewe Solo! Aram Shelton/Fred Lonberg-Holm/Frank Rosaly! Todd Capp/Kurt Ralske Mystery Train! Arnold Hammerschlag Quintet on Skirl! Max Eastley/Derek Bailey/Feminist Improvising Group! Nurse With Wound and More!


The DMG FREE Weekly In-Store Concert Series Continues With:

This Sunday, August 16th Early Double-Header:
5pm: LEAP OF FAITH: PEK – clarinets, saxes, double reeds / GLYNIS LOMON – cello, aquasonic /STEVE NORTON – clarinets, saxes / YURI ZBITNOV – drums!
6pm: THOMAS HEBERER – Solo Trumpet & 1st Meeting with the LEAP OF FAITH Folks!

Sunday, August 23rd:

Sunday, August 30th:
6pm: QEEI – Solo Drummer from Buenos Aires!

Sunday, September 20th – Hosted by Chris Pitsiokos