AMN Reviews: Nathan Hubbard / Skeleton Key Orchestra – Furiously Dreaming (2016; Orenda Records)

Big-band avant-jazz is having a moment these days, such as the works of Anthony Braxton, Darcy James Argue, Fred Ho (RIP), John Korsrud, Kamasi Washington, and Dan Weiss, among others.  Add to that list drummer Nathan Hubbard.

Recorded over a three-year period from 2007-2010, the double-CD Furiously Dreaming features 49 performers, notables including Jason Robinson, Kris Tiner, Jeff Kaiser, and Michael Dessen, as well as a chorus.  Tracking in at over 130 minutes, there is a lot to absorb here, but not just because of its length.  The album also presents some rather knotty compositions across its eight tracks.

As a whole, Furiously Dreaming, is full of complex, angular lines. While some of it is tightly composed, other tracks offer extended horn solos and improvisations. Elements of both free improv and atmospheric drones are present. All of this is the foreground of an orchestral jazz band backdrop. The addition of the chorus on certain tracks adds to the atmosphere, making this recording even more difficult to categorize. In addition to its musical appeal, Furiously Dreaming includes spoken-word voice overs, that are downright creepy at times. For instance, narration on the third track, sleepdreamsilence, seems as if it is right out of a psychological horror movie.

High points? There are many.  The sheer magnitude of this release makes it difficult to call out any in particular. Perhaps a good starting point is the first track, Crows on the Roof. A jazz orchestra is accompanied by distorted electric guitar and a driving beat through a discordant intro.  The guitar duels with a sax for a while, together and then over a multi-percussive break. A jagged horn theme soon emerges, which evolves into a horn soloing over a brooding, multi-layered orchestral atmosphere, with disjointed percussion. Another haunting spoken word interlude follows, before a staccato variation on the horn theme returns.  Foreground piano then rolls over dual percussion and walls of horns.  The piano is replaced by chants from the chorus, which slows fade over the final three minutes of the track.

In sum, Hubbard et al. have released a brilliantly compelling album of dense, uncategorizable music.

The Free Jazz Collective Reviews

Source: The Free Jazz Collective.

Thollem McDonas & Markus Hunt – Adobe (Edgetone, 2016) ***½
Music to Silence to Music: A Biography of Henry Grimes – Barbara Frenz (Northway Publications, 2015) ****½
PaPaJo – Spielä (Creative Sources, 2016) ****
Peter Brötzmann & ICI Ensemble – Beautiful Lies (Neos Jazz, 2016) ****
Peter Brötzmann, Fred Hopkins, Rashied Ali ‎– Songlines (Trost, 2016) ****½
Shibusashirazu Orchestra – Prato, Italy 07-03-2016
Konstrukt & Alexander Hawkins – 10.08.15 (OTOroku, 2016) ****

Ecstatic Music Festival 2017 

Source: Ecstatic Music Festival.  As an early heads-up, the lineup for this series of 2017 concerts has the following artists so far:

Mon, Jan 9, 7:30 pm. Featuring new works by Nico Muhly, Anna Thorvaldsdottir and Felipe Waller

San Fermin & NOW Ensemble
Sat, Jan 28, 7:30 pm
Song Exploder Live with Hrishikesh Hirway
Thu, Feb 9, 7:30 pm

Thums Up (Vijay Iyer, Himanshu Suri, Rafiq Bhatia, Kassa Overall) & Arooj Aftab
Sat, Mar 4, 7:30 pm

Alarm Will Sound – Alarm System
Sat, May 13, 7:30 pm

Two JACK Quartet Replaces Two Members

Source: The New York Times.

The JACK Quartet, which has emerged in recent years as a vital force in the new music world, is getting some new blood: the ensemble announced Tuesday morning that two of its founding members plan to leave this summer and will be replaced by new musicians.

Founded in 2007, JACK has become an important ensemble with a reputation for adventurousness and for championing new work. It has performed music by composers including John Luther Adams, Caroline Shaw, Steve Reich, Matthias Pintscher and John Zorn, among many others.

The Lost Civilizations Experimental Music Project and DC Improvisers Collective in DC July 18

On July 18, the Lost Civilizations experimental music project continues its Residency at DC’s iconic and überchill Dew Drop Inn (http://www.dewdropinndc.com/), which is located at 2801 8th Street, NE (map:  https://goo.gl/maps/oAgnnyZm5k92).  The performance begins at 8pm, and there’s no cover or minimum.

The DC Improvisers Collective (http://dcimproviserscollective.com/) is featured on this bill.  The DC Improvisers Collective (DCIC) is a group of musicians exploring the intersection of jazz, contemporary composition and rock music. Their revolving lineup often features drummer Ben Azzara, guitarist/keyboardist Jonthan Matis,and recently bassist Chris Brown, guitarist John Kamman, clarinetist Ben Redwine, trumpeter Patrick Whitehead – and in the past bassist Dan Barbiero, and saxophonist Mike Sebastian. Performers come together from diverse backgrounds bringing experience in rock bands and jazz as well as post classical composition

The Lost Civilizations experimental music project  (http://lost-civilizations.tumblr.com/;http://goo.gl/WfSs5) is a collaboration between Mike Sebastian (tenor sax, saxello and baritone sax) and T. A. Zook (basscello). Although essentially a duo, when schedules permit, it is joined by Jerry Busher (drums); Doug Kallmeyer (bass and electronics), Sam Lohman (drums) Larry Gomez (percussion), Patrick Whitehead (flügelhorn and trumpet) and Emily Chimiak (violin).  Jerry Busher will be sitting in on drums at the July 18performance.

For additional information:  tedzook@hotmail.com