AMN Reviews: Action Friend – bon•ho•mie (2018; Chant Records)

Master of Reality era Black Sabbath meets Mr. Bungle. Full stop.

Well, we can’t really end it there, so let’s go on. This Los Angeles quartet has been around for over a decade, though bon•ho•mie is just their third album and follows its predecessor after a seven-year pause. The lineup is that of a standard 70’s rock quartet – guitar / bass / keys / drums – though the approach here is not strictly retro. Sure, there is more than a little heady, bluesy riffing from guitarist Jeremy McLean that would make Tony Iommi nod in approval. But then you also have a John Zorn / Mike Patton avant-rock influence as well, with disjointed song structures, thrash-metal drives, and demented circus music. Not to mention a few psychedelic meanderings.

While all four members of the group are credited with vocals, nine of the album’s ten tracks are instrumental. Only on the finale, She Wasn’t, She Isn’t is there any singing, though with fairly standard trappings. But at that point, Action Friend has charmed you with how well they can paint outside the lines, that this more conventional approach is a pleasant diversion.

A standout track is the seven-minute Sewer Abuse, which features dense atmospherics, driving hard rock rhythms, cosmic synths, and a modicum of free improv. Another winner is LMNOP Whole, which varies between heavy riffing, three-chord acoustic guitar interludes, and motifs that fit in with those of Mr. Bungle’s California.

bon•ho•mie is a fun album that combines a number of familiar and experimental styles into an utterly enjoyable 40 minutes. On it, Action Friend proves that you don’t have to be outside all the time to innovate. Strong recommendation for avant-rock fans.

AMN Reviews: Big Heart Machine – Big Heart Machine (2018; Outside In Music)

On the self-titled debut of Big Heart Machine, multi-instrumentalist Brian Krock leads a big-band jazz ensemble (19 participants including a conductor) through eight labyrinthine tracks. Krock’s contributions are on saxophone, clarinet, flute, and recorder, while his four of bandmates play a similar set of instruments, four others focus on trumpet and flugelhorn, four more on trombone, and the rest on vibraphone, piano, synth, electric guitar, electric and upright bass, and (of course) drums and percussion. This results in a rich, orchestral sound with the underpinnings of a rock band. Notably, the album was produced by Darcy James Argue, and occupies a similar space as the latter’s Secret Society.

The opening track, Don’t Analyze is based around a climbing rhythm carried out by various subsets of the group, while all join in from time to time with a dense flourish. The lines are jagged and contrapuntal, taking sudden left turns yet leaving room for short solos.

The five-part Tamalpais follows. It begins with an atmospheric interlude led by woodwinds and bass.  This morphs into a rolling rhythm and then gently downtempo staccato vibes and guitar under a sax solo.  A guitar-led section varying from long-held notes to speed picking accompanies big-band jazz trappings in the background. The third part of the suite takes things down for a few minutes before a blues-oriented sax solo accompanies heavy guitar chording toward the end of the track, while the fourth offers waves of brass as well as a piano / vibes interlude with hints of prog-rock stylings.  The pieces ends downtempo with a focus on sax and a return to the opening atmospherics.

The final 20 minutes of the album is the most “conventional” (if anything about this album could fit that word).  Both the penultimate (Jelly Cat) and final (Mighty Purty) track have more of a big band feel and pacing. Nonetheless, the latter has its share of angular turns.

Big Heart Machine covers a great deal of ground in approximately 60 minutes. It wends its way through dozens of themes and motifs, sticking with each long enough to provide a sense of familiarity, but quickly moving on. Krock’s saxophone playing (assuming that he is the main soloist) has a distinctive voice and straddles the line between inside and outside playing. The heavy use of electric guitar adds another unique twist to the recording.

Needless to say, this is a huge release.  It is full of ideas and deftly executed, a candidate for album of the year.

Chicago Scene: September 1-8, 2018

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

Saturday, September 1st 2018

11:30AM-4:00PM at the Von Freeman Pavilion, Millennium Park, 201 E Randolph (wheelchair-accessible)
Chicago Jazz Festival

1:50PM-2:45PM Matthew Shipp, Ivo Perelman
3:00PM-4:00PM Amina Claudine Myers Trio

3:45PM-9:00PM at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, 201 E Randolph (wheelchair-accessible)
Chicago Jazz Festival
6:25PM-7:25PM Darcy James Argue

9:00PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western (Free)
Dog/Day #7
Kidd Jordan
Nolatet at the Hungry Brain

Sunday, September 2nd 2018

11:30AM-4:00PM at the Von Freeman Pavilion, Millennium Park, 201 E Randolph (wheelchair-accessible)
Chicago Jazz Festival
12:40PM-1:35PM Jaimie Branch’s Fly or Die
1:50PM-2:45PM Jason Stein Quartet
3:00PM-4:00PM Eric Revis Quartet

9:00PM at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W Belmont (wheelchair-accessible)
Dog/Day #8
Kidd Jordan, Jeff Parker, Joshua Abrams, Alvin Fielder

Monday, September 3rd 2018

7:30PM at Experimental Sound Studio, 5925 N Ravenswood, 773.769.1069 ($10)
Don Dietrich Solo
Discussion with Ken Vandermark

9:00PM at Beat Kitchen, 2100 W Belmont, 773.281.4444
Extraordinary Popular Delusions : Jim Baker, Ed Wilkerson Jr, Brian Sandstrom, Steve Hunt

Friday, September 7th 2018

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($10)
Big Heart Machine : Brian Krock, Rajiv Halim, Natalie Lande, Dustin Laurenzi, Wills McKenna, Tito Carrillo, Drew Hansen, Chad McCullough, Justin Woodward, Josh Torrey, Euan Edmonds, Chris Misch-Bloxdorf, Elena Grijalva, Sam Hasting, Rob Clearfield, Mike Harmon, Preyas Roy, Matt Plaskota

Saturday, September 8th 2018

3:00PM at the May Chapel at Rosehill Cemetery, 5800 N Ravenswood
Instigation Orchestra : Jeff Albert, Anton Hatwich, Ben LaMar Gay, Damon Locks, Steve Marquette, Aurora Nealand, Avreeayl Ra, James Singleton, Paul Thibodeaux, Mars Williams

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

Jazzword Reviews

Source: Jazzword.

Sloth Racket
A Glorious Monster

Igor Lumpert & Innertexture

Cene Resnik Trio/Watch for Dogs
Shades of Colors

Jason Robinson’s Janus Ensemble:
Resonant Geographies

Tribute to an Imaginary Folk Band

The Jig is Up

Tomasz Dąbrowski Ad Hoc

Samo Salamon/Tony Malaby/Roberto Dani
Travelling Moving Breathing

Extended Techniques NYC Calendar for September 

Source: extended techniques.

TUESDAY, September 4
8PM Brandon Lopez Trio
Brandon Lopez – Double Bass
Virginia Genta – Saxophones, Piano
David Vanzan – Percussion
VENUE: Roulette
ADMISSION: $18/$25

WEDNESDAY, September 5
8 PM Sam Weinberg + Sandy Ewen + Weasel Walter
VENUE: Wonders of Nature

THURSDAY, September 6
8 PM Milford Graves & Shahzad Ismaily, Marina Rosenfeld, Charmaine Lee
VENUE: First Unitarian Church

THURSDAY, September 6
8 PM Unbridled 2 – Of The Essence
Reiko Fueting, “..gesammeltes Schweigen”
Morton Feldman, “Voices and Cello” for 2 voices, cello
Emily Praetorius, Commissioned work for Unbridled and interposed movements of improvisation
Stephanie Lamprea, soprano and curator
Charlotte Munn-Wood, violin
Chris Irvine, cello and curator
Charlotte Mundy, soprano (for Feldman)
VENUE: Areté Venue and Gallery

THURSDAY, September 6
8:30 pm String Theory
Charlie Burnham (violin) Erik Friedlander (cello) Ryan Blotnick (guitar) Tony Scherr (bass) Jerry Granelli (drums) Michael Blake (saxes, flute)
VENUE: The Stone

FRIDAY, September 7
8PM Tipple (Frode Gjerstad, Kevin Norton, David Watson) & more
VENUE: Wonders of Nature

SATURDAY, September 8
7PM Brutal Measures: Lydia Lunch & Weasel Walter with Tim Dahl
VENUE: El Cortez

SATURDAY, September 8
8:30PM Further Complications Festival: Imri Talgam (piano; analog synthesizer) plays Kurtag, Nancarrow, et al.
Imri Talgam, piano and analog synthesizer
“Strange Machines”
Conlon Nancarrow (1912-1997):
Studies for player piano n.6 and 15, arranged for live pianist.(1950-1960?)
Two Canons for Ursula (1988)
Tango (from Yvar Mikhashoff’s collection) (1983)
Enno Poppe (1969-): 840 variations (1997)
Matthias Krüger: renk (2016)
Yair Klartag: New Work (2018)
VENUE: Spectrum

SUNDAY, September 9
3:30pm Trombone Insurgency (InGardens)
Joe McPhee – trombone
Dick Griffin – trombone
Steve Swell – trombone
VENUE: Children’s Magical Garden, 129 Stanton St

MONDAY, Septemeber 10
8PM Patrick Holmes, clarinet | Thomas Heberer, trumpet | Vincent Chancey, french horn | Aaron Novik, bass, contrabass and Bflat clarinets
VENUE: Debasement series at Max Fish

THURSDAY, September 13
7PM Michael Formanek’s Very Practical Trio
Michael Formanek – bass
Tim Berne – saxophone
Mary Halvorson – guitar
VENUE: Spectrum

THURSDAY, September 13
8 pm Kris Davis & Matthew Shipp
Kris Davis – Piano
Matthew Shipp – Piano
VENUE: Zürcher Gallery
ADMISSION: $20 cover charge

FRIDAY, September 14
7:00pm & 9:00pm Charlemagne Palestine
VENUE: Park Avenue Armory

SATURDAY, September 15
8PM Charlemagne Palestine & Steve Dalachinsky
VENUE: Issue Project Room
ADMISSION: $15/$20

MONDAY, September 17
7 PM Double Album Release with Mary Halvorson / Bill Frisell Duo
and Robbie Lee / Mary Halvorson Duo
VENUE: (le) poisson rouge
ADMISSION: $20 advance | $25 day of show

WEDNESDAY, September 19
7:30pm BAC Salon: Szymanowski, Berio + Debussy
Tesla Quartet
Alexandra Smither, soprano
K. Szymanowski: String Quartet no. 1, op. 37 (1917)
L. Berio: Sequenza III for solo voice (1966)
C. Debussy: String Quartet (1893)
VENUE: Baryshnikov Arts Center

WEDNESDAY, September 19 and THURSDAY, September 20
5 pm and 7:30pm The Crossing
Works by David Lang, Louis Andriessen, Ingram Marshall, Ted Hearne, Suzanne Giraud, David Shapiro, Toivo Tulev, And Gabriel Jackson
The Crossing chamber choir
VENUE: Park Avenue Armory

THURSDAY, September 20
8 PM Dan Mccarthy Quartet
Dan McCarthy, vibraphone; Mark Feldman, violin; Eivind Opsvik, bass; Tom Rainey, drums
VENUE: Cornelia Street Cafe
ADMISSION: $10 cover plus $10 minimum

THURSDAY, September 20
8:30 pm Poschiavo 50
Sara Schoenbeck (bassoon) Erik Friedlander (cello) Harris Eisenstadt (drums, compositions)
VENUE: The Stone

FRIDAY, September 21
8:30 pm Poschiavo 50
Sara Schoenbeck (bassoon) Ikue Mori (electronics) Dan Peck (tuba) Harris Eisenstadt (drums, compositions)
VENUE: The Stone

SATURDAY, September 22
8 PM Marilyn Crispell & Angelica Sanchez
piano duets
VENUE: Greenwich House Music School

MONDAY, September 24
8PM Konk Pack
Roger Turner (drums), Thomas Lehn (analog synthesizer), and Tim Hodgkinson (lap-steel guitar, clarinet).
VENUE: Roulette
ADMISSION: $15/$20

TUESDAY, September 25
Chris Cochrane, guitar; Tim Hodgkinson (Henry Cow), clarinets, saxophone and some electronics.
VENUE: Spectrum

WEDNESDAY, September 26 and FRIDAY, September 28
8pm Proving Up (and opera by Missy Mazzoli)
Music by Missy Mazzoli
Libretto by Royce Vavrek
Adapted from the short story Proving Up by Karen Russell
VENUE: Miller Theatre at Columbia University
ADMISSION: $40 – $75

THURSDAY, September 27
8:30 pm Duo Improv
Erik Friedlander (cello) Pamelia Stickney (theremin)
VENUE: The Stone

FRIDAY, September 28
8:30 pm Trio Improv
Ingrid Laubrock (sax) Susie Ibarra (drums, percussion) Pamelia Stickney (theremin)
VENUE: The Stone

Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter

Source: Downtown Music Gallery.

Ingrid Laubrock & Tom Rainey! Michael Musillami Trio Jason Robinson & Kirk Knuffke! Peter Madsen’s Seven Sins Ensemble! The Skopje Connection Meets Ernst Reijseger! Don Fiorino & Andy Haas! Asmus Teitchens! Keiji Haino & Konstrukt!

Archival Discs from The John Cipollina and Nick Gravenites Band! John McLaughlin’s My Goal’s Beyond! Creative Music Studio 1981: Anthony Braxton / Chick Corea / Pat Metheny..! Faust ‘Tapes’, Univers Zero!

Plus a Great Big ReR CD Sale: Art Bears! Biota! Camberwell Now! Chris Cutler & Fred Frith! Henry Cow! News from Babel! Goebbels & Harth! Christian Marclay! Mnemomists! The Necks! Sun Ra! Slapp Happy and The Work..!

Upcoming Sets at Downtown Music Gallery – FREE, every Sunday at 6pm

Sunday, September 2nd – Rare Labor Day Weekend Triple-Header!
6pm: CHARMAINE LEE / BEN BENNETT – Vocals & Percussion
7pm: KYOKO KITAMURA / LEONID GALAGANOV – Vocals / Percussion & Shakuhachi
8pm: CARLOS QUEBRADA / NICOLAS DEL AQUILA from Nicotina les Primavera

Sunday, September 9th:
6pm: SAMDY: SANDY EWEN / SAM WEINBERG – Guitar on Lap & Sax!
7pm: JOSH SINTON / GUILLERMO GREGORIO – Baritone Sax & Bass Clarinet / Clarinet!

Sunday, September 23rd:
DERIC DICKENS – Two Saxes / Guitar / Drums

Sunday, September 30th:
6pm: HANS TAMMEN and CHRISTOPH IRMER – Buchla Synth and Violin

Sunday, October 7th:
6pm: SHANE PARRISH & FRANK MEADOWS – Guitar & ContraBass