AMN Reviews: Death Drag – Shifted (2018; Iluso Records)

This UK-based quartet navigates an instrumental path somewhere between metal, post-rock, and John Zorn, incorporating these influences into a novel amalgam of structure and free improvisation. Consisting of Mike Caratti on drums and compositions, Roberto Sassi on guitar, Sanitago Horro on bass, and Luke Barlow on keyboards, Death Drag tempers their manic tendencies with raw atmospherics.

A perfect example is the juxtaposition of the first two tracks. Golden Root Complex is twelve minutes of ambiance with a heavy emphasis on guitar and keyboard drones. Bass and rattling percussion join around the three-minute mark, as the group slowly builds towards an open improv. Controlled feedback and short motifs head in the direction of noise-rock, but the group maintains an unusual balance between direction and exploration. In contrast, Uncredited Corpse is all-out Zornish improv with speed-picked guitar, rumbling bass lines, and crazed drumming. Somewhere in the middle, a short drum solo provides an introduction to a movement including discordant riffing that evolves into a reprise of the freedom with which the track begins.

While aggressive, Shifted also exhibits a degree of subtlety that may take several listens to fully appreciate. Despite the heavy guitar work, Death Drag eschews standard metal forms. Somehow, they manage to move together in a cohesive fashion while simultaneously heading in different directions. A highly recommended release.

Wadada Leo Smith Interviewed and Profiled Ahead of Tonight’s UVa Performance


Composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith has spent decades in musical experimentation, winning awards, devising a musical language and working with a remarkable list of artists. In that time, he’s made a few discoveries. “The greatest thing that connects people together,” said Smith, “is the ability to communicate.” When he and his Golden Quintet participate in the Impulse Festival of Improvisation at the University of Virginia, an event that climaxes with the ensemble’s multimedia performance of “America’s National Parks,” they’ll have plenty to say and demonstrate.

Chicago Scene: January 27 – February 2, 2018

English: Mary Halvorson, Jazz guitarist; Pictu...

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

Saturday, January 27th 2018

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($15-$10)
Tom Rainey Trio with Ingrid Laubrock, Mary Halvorson

Sunday, January 28th 2018

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($15-$10)
Zafa Collective : Hannah Christiansen, Emelinda Escobar, Yelley Taylor, Audrey Q Snyder, Nicole Frankel, Andy Hudson, Josh Graham, Christopher Narloch, Autumn Selover — music by Nina Young, Eliza Brown, Joan Tower, Kaija Saariaho, Missy Mazzoli

9:00PM at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W Belmont ($10 suggested donation) (wheelchair-accessible)
Josh Berman, Joshua Abrams, Frank Rosaly

Monday, January 29th 2018

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

Tuesday, January 30th 2018

9:00PM at Café Mustache, 2313 N Milwaukee, 773.877.3327 (wheelchair-accessible)
Galaxxu : Alexander Adams, Corey Lyons
Foley/Dorr Duo : Keenan Foley, Val Dorr

Wednesday, January 31st 2018

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($15)
Audrey Chen, Phil Minton

Thursday, February 1st 2018

8:00PM at The Whistler, 2421 N Milwaukee (wheelchair-accessible)
Gather 2018 Kickoff + Release Party
Katherine Young
Allen Moore

Friday, February 2nd 2018

8:30PM at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W Belmont (Free) (wheelchair-accessible)
IE : Mike Gallope, Meredith Gill, Travis Workman, Mariel Oliviera
Oren/Bouboushian Duo
Matt Mehlan
Katherine Young

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

New From Tzadik

John Zorn (cropped version)

Source: Tzadik.

John Zorn : The Urmuz Epigrams

With The Urmuz Epigrams Zorn returns to his roots, using the recording studio as instrument to create an intensely personal suite of compositions in the style of his legendary File Card compositions and Zoetropes. Dedicated to the visionary Romanian writer Urmuz whose small, scattered body of work predated Dadaism by decades, The Urmuz Epigrams is a suite of surrealistic miniatures more akin to philosophical aphorisms than actual music. The pieces are presented here in two iterations, as a set of “rare 78rpm records” complete with surface scratches and limited dynamic range, and as a modern reconstruction of same with the full blown studio sound presented in all its perplexing glory. Some of the craziest music in the Zorn catalog!

Ches Smith: Drums, Percussion, Vibraphone, Glockenspiel, Voice
John Zorn: Saxophone, Piano, Organ, Sound Effects, Guitar, Bass, Game Calls, Percussion, Voice

Kramer : The Brill Building, Book Two Featuring Bill Frisell

Everyone’s favorite guitarist and American Song aficionado Bill Frisell joins forces with producer/arranger Kramer for a brilliant and soulful exploration of the classic songwriting teams that were born and flourished in the legendary Brill Building. Picking up where 2012’s “The Brill Building, Book One” left off, this collection includes imaginative and creative arrangements of songs by Paul Simon, Burt Bacharach, Neil Diamond, Doc Pomus, Al Kooper, Carole King and more! Kramer’s idiosyncratic production values high- light Frisell’s distinctive guitar work, making this second installment a rare and vital gem in the Great American Songbook. Essential!

Bill Frisell: Guitars
Kramer: Everything Else

Jazz in NYC This Week

Source: The New York Times.

MARY HALVORSON at the Stone (Jan. 30-Feb. 4). Ms. Halvorson — whose crinkly, caustic sound makes her one of the most distinctive guitarists in improvised music — will begin her weeklong residency at the Stone with aa triplicate of duets. She’ll play with the drummer Randy Peterson on Tuesday, the guitarist Liberty Ellman on Wednesday and the guitarist Ben Monder on Thursday. On Feb. 2, she expands to a trio (with John Hébert on bass and Ches Smith on drums); over weekend she plays with a different quartet each night.

JOHN HOLLENBECK LARGE ENSEMBLE at Le Poisson Rouge (Jan. 30, 8 p.m.). Mr. Hollenbeck, an idiosyncratic drummer and sonic architect, likes to let sounds float around and connect at various angles, misplacing and de-ordering things. In the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, the variety of textures involved is plainly remarkable. So is the range of emotional registers: His music can be dirge-like, ludic, abstracted — sometimes multiple things at once. Those are among the big joys of “All Can Work,” an arresting new album from the ensemble. Opening for the band at this concert is a duo featuring the vocalist Theo Bleckmann and the guitarist Ben Monder.

MATTHEW SHIPP TRIO with Roscoe Mitchell at Zankel Hall (Jan. 27, 9 p.m.). As part of Carnegie Hall’s performance series “The ’60s: The Years that Changed America,” Mr. Shipp, a pianist, adds a special guest to his trio. Mr. Mitchell, a saxophonist and composer, helped found the seminal Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians in Chicago in 1965. Since then, his seeking intellect and sensitive ear have led him to a multitude of projects and recordings. He has that prolificacy in common with Mr. Shipp, a rugged free improviser in his own right, and one of the more influential members of the New York jazz scene over the past 30 years.

‘ON THE CORNER OF BOURBON, MALECÓN & BROADWAY’ at Symphony Space (Jan. 26, 7 p.m., Jan. 27, 8 p.m.). Three esteemed artists come together here for a night of cross-pollination and exchange uniting the musical traditions of New York, New Orleans and Havana. The New Orleanian jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis will join Steven Bernstein, a stalwart trumpeter of New York’s downtown scene, and Arturo O’Farrill, the progressive Cuban-American pianist. Mr. Bernstein will be accompanied by the Hot 9, the band he co-leads with Henry Butler, another New Orleans pianist. Mr. O’Farrill will present his Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra.

Tomas Fujiwara Profiled, New Album Reviewed

Source: Bleader.

October’s Triple Double (Firehouse 12), a fantastic sextet album from drummer Tomas Fujiwara, includes a piece called “For Alan” that’s largely a duet between the bandleader and drummer Gerald Cleaver—but it opens with a recording the 39-year-old Fujiwara made when he was just ten. That recording includes a snippet of a lesson he was taking from master drummer Alan Dawson, who’s best known for his work with saxophonists Booker Ervin and Sonny Rollins. Fujiwara hesitates to improvise, and though Dawson gives him a pass “for now,” he insists that “you’re gonna have to do this,” explaining that “it’s the power of playing music . . . to express oneself within the framework of the piece.”

The Squid’s Ear Reviews

English: Billy Bang at the Vision Festival, 20...

Source: The Squid’s Ear.

Toshimaru Nakamura & Jun Numata – The First Album (Doubt Music)

Billy Bang – Distinction Without a Difference (Corbett vs. Dempsey)

John Butcher / John Edwards / Mark Sanders – Last Dream of the Morning (Relative Pitch)

Burkhard Beins / Lucio Capece / Martin Küchen / Paul Vogel – Fracture Mechanics (Mikroton)

Christoph Erb / Jim Baker / Frank Rosaly – …Don’t Buy Him A Parrot… (HatOLOGY)

Morton Subotnick: 50th Anniversary of Silver Apples of the Moon in LA, February 13

Silver Apples of the Moon (album)

Source: REDCAT.

Morton Subotnick, one of the most inventive minds in music, performs works that bookend 50 continuous years of avant-garde vision. Subotnick presides over his onstage studio, revisiting his 1967 technological and artistic masterpiece Silver Apples of the Moon live. A crucial milestone in electronic music, Silver Apples of the Moon was instantly iconic when it was released by Nonesuch Records 50 years ago, influencing generations of artists. Then, out of complete darkness emerges Crowds and Power, a media tone poem for voice, electronic sound and live imagery inspired by Elias Canetti’s troubling and eternally relevant book. Legendary vocalist Joan La Barbara, champion of the avant-garde, performs the central character and Berlin-based artist Lillevan provides a live visual environment.