AMN Reviews: Dan Weiss – Starebaby (2018; Pi Recordings)

It is no secret what I think of drummer Dan Weiss’s work over the last several years. His 2014 release, Fourteen, was an album of the year, while his 2016 release, Sixteen: Drummers Suite, repeated that honor. Both of those albums focused on Weiss’s dense, layered compositions for large ensembles. On Starebaby, he offers some of the same note-filled angularities but experiments with spaciousness as well.

Joined by Ben Monder on guitar, Trevor Dunn on bass, and with Craig Taborn and Matt Mitchell doubling up on piano and keyboard duties, Weiss eschews the orchestral leanings of his previous two releases and instead focuses on works for this smaller group. While heavily composed and exhibiting a strong sense of structure, these tracks open up from time to time and leave room for group interpretation. The result hovers somewhere between chamber rock, metal, and jazz but does not fit into any of these genres.

The album opens with A Puncher’s Chance, featuring strong chording from Monder overlaid on themes set forth by Taborn and Mitchell.  The latter two also add accentuations and flourishes, while the rhythm section deliberately wends its way through labyrinthine lines. Depredation is a slower piece that begins with a more traditional rock drumming approach from Weiss. Monder and the keyboardists trade off motifs until Weiss and Dunn settle on a tense, jagged pattern of beats. Monder provides distorted, bent notes that evolves into a solo speed-picking improvisation. Another standout track is The Memory of My Memory, which begins with an atmospheric soundscape from Monder, Taborn, and Mitchell. This settles into a brief jazz piano theme, before cosmic keyboard effects and Monder’s heavy riffing bring about a more ominous tone. Over this wall of noise, Weiss maintains an active and varying effort, which culminates an a punctuated, staccato arrangement that could easily fall under the avant-metal label.

Starebaby provides an alternate look into the mind of Weiss. Fans of his previous efforts will enjoy the album. Additionally, given the similarities between the musical directions of Weiss and Mitchell, anyone who has appreciated Mitchell’s recent solo album or his work of late with Tim Berne should give this effort a try. There are moments of pure brillance herein.

Starebaby will be out April 6th on Pi Recordings.


Chicago Scene: March 4-11, 2018

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

Sunday, March 4th 2018

5:00PM at Currency Exchange Cafe, 305 E Garfield Blvd, 773.855.9163 (Free)
Great Black Music Ensemble with Esteemed Elder George Freeman

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($15-$5)
Once More with Feeling!
Spektral Quartet with Wadada Leo Smith

9:00PM at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W Belmont ($10 suggested donation) (wheelchair-accessible)
Dave Rempis, Kent Kessler, Avreeayl Ra + Jim Baker

Monday, March 5th 2018

9:00PM Second session
7:30PM at Experimental Sound Studio, 5925 N Ravenswood, 773.769.1069 ($10)
Phillip Sudderberg Solo
Phillip Sudderberg, Jason Stein, Charlie Kirchen

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

Wednesday, March 7th 2018

8:30PM at Beat Kitchen, 2100 W Belmont, 773.281.4444 (wheelchair-accessible)
Splice Series
Dave Rempis, Phil Sudderberg, Julian Kirchner, Peter Maunu

Sunday, March 11th 2018
9:00PM at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W Belmont ($10 suggested donation) (wheelchair-accessible)
Tone Collector : Tony Malaby, Eivind Opsvik, Jeff Davis

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

Coming to Detroit

Kahil El'Zabar at Chicago's Ethnic Heritage En...

Source: Trinosophes.

Sunday, March 4: Ethnic Heritage Ensemble

The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble is a legacy ensemble of Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians , formed by percussionist Kahil El’Zabar in 1976. He teamed up with tenor saxophonist Edward Wilkerson, Jr., to play music that combined contemporary African-American musical styles, like jazz, with more traditional African instrumentation and rhythms. Over the years, the group has added musicians like saxophonist Light Henry Huff, Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre; Joseph Bowie, Ernest Dawkins Fareed Haque, Corey Wilkes and David Murray- among others.

Through extensive touring in Europe and the United States in many iterations, Ethnic Heritage Ensemble developed international notoriety and a distinct group sound. The current line-up featuresEl Zabar with Corey Wilkes on trumpet and Detroit’s own ALex Harding on baritone sax.

Doors at 7:30 pm


3/15 Desertion Trio, Mars Williams (US) with Tollef Østvang (Norway)
3/29: Ben Bennet/Michael Foster Duo, GRID
3?30: Xylouris White

Steven Bernstein Residency at Jazz Standard – March 8th through 11th

English: Steven Bernstein live at Saalfelden 2...

Source: New York’s Jazz Standard.

The daring and always entertaining trumpeter, composer, arranger, and bandleader Steven Bernstein plays Jazz Standard with two of his most celebrated groups Sexmob (March 8), with a special appearance by John Medeski (March 9), and Millenial Territory Orchestra (March 10-11), recreating their time as Jazz Standard’s Monday night residency band.

Steven Bernstein’s Sexmob, Thur March 8th

In 1996, Bernstein formed Sexmob with Briggan Krauss (alto sax), Tony Scherr (bass), and Kenny Wollesen (drums); it remains his primary vehicle for exploring the slide trumpet, a rare instrument that he picked up in a Woodstock guitar shop back in 1977. Since its launch, Sexmob has added its patented touch to tunes by Lead Belly, Hoagy Carmichael, Paul McCartney, Duke Ellington, Prince, the Rolling Stones, James Brown, Count Basie, and Professor Longhair.

Sexmob with special guest John Medeski, Friday Mar 9th

Keyboard wizard John Medeski and Bernstein have enjoyed a decade–long association, including the 2009 album Sex Mob Meets Medeski: Live in Willisau. You can hear the quartet with Medeski on Hammond B3 Organ Friday night!

Steven Bernstein’s Millenial Territory Orchestra, Sat March 10th & Sun March 11th

Formed in 1999, Millennial Territory Orchestra’s repertoire combines overlooked gems of early jazz, original compositions, and radically revamped versions of songs by the Beatles, Prince, and Sly & The Family Stone.

Steven Bernstein – trumpet
Charlie Burnham – violin
Curtis Fowlkes – trombone
Doug Wieselman – clarinet
Peter Apfelbaum – tenor saxophone
Erik Lawrence – baritone saxophone
Matt Munisteri – guitar
Ben Allison – bass
Ben Perowsky – drums

Bang on a Can Marathon Returns to Downtown Manhattan 

Source: The New York Times.

After a brief foray into Brooklyn, the annual Bang on a Can Marathon is moving back to downtown Manhattan, where it has resided for much of its 30-year run.

The free concert will take place at the N.Y.U. Skirball Center on Washington Square Park on May 13 from noon to 10 p.m. The Bang on a Can founders, Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe, will present their own compositions and serve as M.C.’s; other performers include Terry Riley and Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields.

OBEY Convention Festival in Halifax, May 24-27

Source: OBEY Convention.

We’re thrilled to partner with Atlantic Canada’s most adventurous music festival, OBEY Convention, who are announcing the first wave of artists set to perform at the 11th instalment in the coastal city of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Crossing genres, mediums and identities to create a four-day narrative of radical sounding, OBEY Convention’s forward-thinking programme is like no other.

This year’s festival will showcase fire-hot Portuguese kuduro prodigy NÍDIA, legendary avant-industrial cult ONO, NYC’s noise exorcist Pharmakon, tension-heavy tone-breaker Sarah Hennies, Chinese-Canadian classical master Liu Fang, dadaist sound freek i dm theft able, Toronto’s new-jazz phenom Joseph Shabason and French-Haitian sound healer Anaïs Maviel. Below you can find a link to stream and download tracks previously released by these artists. Further additions to the lineup are to be announced.