AMN Reviews: Matthew Shipp Trio – Signature (2019; ESP Disk)

Matthew Shipp respects the jazz tradition, but he is not bound to it in any manner. Signature is the latest release of his long-running trio, this version including Michael Bisio on bass and Newman Taylor Baker on drums. Despite a few walking bass lines and appealing microtunes, it would be inaccurate to say that any of these ten tracks truly swing. Shipp’s restless and intellectual approach to the piano does not allow him to rely on the same melodic structures for long, while Bisio and Baker are a free-improv backing section (the notion of “rhythm” is present but de-emphasized).

The self-titled introductory track is an example of Shipp’s ruminative stylings. Thoughtful jazz and classical motifs mix and match throughout his catchy yet unconventional leads. Baker remains unusually busy on this marginally-downtempo offering, while Bisio’s basswork involves sonorous slides as well as explorations that diverge from and then return to following Shipp.  Perhaps the most aggressive piece is Flying Saucer, a rapid-fire exercise in disjoint pacing with an energy level that is in overdrive. Bisio and Baker providing their own iconoclastic deviations that make the sum of the parts sound as if all three performers are doing their own things. And yet, these complex units somehow fit together. Stage Ten is the most straight-ahead track of the bunch and even approaches a groove, but also includes subtle percussive abstractions from Shipp as well as more than a few fractured notes.

Go ahead and pick up any recording with Shipp as a leader that has been released over the last 30 years.  I dare you to even try to find one isn’t good (spoiler alert: they are all good).  But Signature is a high point for Shipp in a career that consists of a remarkable number of high points. There is an unusual amount and richness of content coming from this iteration of Shipp’s trio. Highly recommended.

AMN Reviews: David Torn, Tim Berne and Ches Smith – Sun of Goldfinger (2019; ECM Records)

A true avant-improv power trio, David Torn, Tim Berne, and Ches Smith, also known as Sun of Goldfinger, come together for their debut album, out March 1 on ECM Records. These individuals are no strangers to one another, working together in Berne’s Snakeoil outfit (with Torn producing the recent album and guesting on certain tracks). But as a sort-of pared-down version of that group, Sun of Goldfinger takes a different direction.

To that point, Torn, Berne, and Smith “jam” across the first (Eye Meddle) and third (Soften the Blow) of the three 22-minute tracks.  Nonetheless, I use the quoted term colloquially. Unlike Berne’s tight systems and structures on the Snakeoil recordings, these pieces are more loosely organized. Torn provides his signature guitar effects and soundscapes along with long-held notes, loops, other and electronics. Berne sticks to sax, injecting quick runs and themes as well as solos and wails. Smith is restrained at times, holding up a groove for his bandmates.  In fact, I would not be surprised if these efforts were mostly live-in-the-studio with a handful of overdubs.

Spartan, Before It Hit sits in the middle with ambiance and as well as fiery performances from guest guitarists Mike Baggetta and Ryan Ferreira, keyboardist Craig Taborn, and the Scorchio String Quartet. This piece is a Torn composition, and it would fit reasonably well on an earlier Torn release (or a Snakeoil release for that matter). The larger lineup allows for more dynamics and diversity – tension and release, danger and foreboding, and a few ripping group workouts. In a sense, this is atmospheric modern classical music played by a creative jazz orchestra, and is in contrast to the trippier elements of the other two tracks.

Chicago Scene: February 16-23, 2019

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

Saturday, February 16th 2019

6:00PM-12:00AM at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S Michigan
Midwinter 2019 Festival

Sunday, February 17th 2019

6:00PM-12:00AM at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S Michigan
Midwinter 2019 Festival

8:00PM at the Fulton Street Collective, 1821 W Hubbard ($15-$10)
Zafa Collective + ~Nois — music by Luis Fernando Amaya, Drew Baker, Marcos Balter, Eliza Brown, Lee Hyla, Alex Mincek, Augusta Read Thomas, Roger Zare

Midwinter After Party
Mute Duo

Monday, February 18th 2019

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

Tuesday, February 19th 2019

9:30PM at The Whistler, 2421 N Milwaukee (wheelchair-accessible)
Rempis/Cunningham Residency
Dave Rempis, Jeremy Cunningham, Mars Williams, Katie Ernst, Quin Kirchner

Wednesday, February 20th 2019

8:00PM at Slate Arts and Performance, 3203 W North Ave, 847.312.1527
Impro Jam Series
Reid Karris, Hanna Brock, Erica Miller, Eric Novak

Thursday, February 21st 2019

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($15)
Mabel Kwan
Jennifer Woodrum with Albatross Duo : Adam Marks, Jennifer Beattie

9:00PM at Elastic, 3429 W Diversey, #208, 773.772.3616 ($10)
Keefe Jackson, Jason Adasiewicz
Sebastian Strinning Quartet with Dave Rempis, Jason Roebke, Bill Harris

Friday, February 22nd 2019

9:00PM at Elastic, 3429 W Diversey, #208, 773.772.3616 ($10)
The Machine is Neither … : Emma Hospelhorn, Ben Sutherland, with Jasmine Mendoza

Saturday, February 23rd 2019

2:00PM at Illinois State Museum, 201 W 10th St, Lockport IL, 815.838.7400 (Free)
Tim Daisy, Katie Ernst, Russ Johnson — performance accompanying art from the Browne Goodwin Collection

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western (Free)
International Contemporary Ensemble : Alice Teyssier, Isabel Gleicher, Joshua Rubin, Campbell MacDonald, Ryan Muncy, Ross Karre, Levy Lorenzo — music by Annea Lockwood, Seth Cluett, Wojtek Blecharz

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

Upcoming Transparent Productions Shows in DC

Source: Transparent Productions.

On Saturday, February 16th @8PM, the William Hooker Trio, w/Dave Ross (guitar), Eriq Robinson (electronics), and William Hooker (drums). @RHIZOME 6950 Maple Avenue, Takoma, DC.

On Sunday, February 17th, @5PM the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, w/founder Kahil El’Zabar on drums, percussion, kalimba and voice, Alex Harding on baritone sax, and Corey Wilkes on trumpet, including a duet tribute to poet Ntosake Shange, by Khahil and poet Dine Watson. @Rhizome, 6950 Maple Street in Takoma, DC.

On Sunday, March 10th, @5PM once dubbed L’enfant Terrible and still respected and revered saxophonist David Murray, plus guests. @Rhizome, 6950 Maple Street in Takoma, DC.

On Tuesday, March 26th, @8PM, Fire!, w/Mats Gustafsson on reeds, Johan Berthling on bass, and Andreas Werliin on drums. Opening will be guitarist Julia Reidy. @Rhizome, 6950 Maple Street in Takoma, DC.

On Saturday, April 13th, @3PM, vocalist Lisa Sokolov & cellist Jake Sokolov-Gonzalez. @Rhizome, 6950 Maple Street in Takoma, DC.

On Saturday, May 10th, @8PM, trombonist Steve Swell. @Rhizome, 6950 Maple Street in Takoma, DC.

On Saturday, June 8th, in collaboration with the DC Jazz Festival, guitarist Joe Morris & drummer Tomas Fujiwara. @Rhizome, 6950 Maple Street in Takoma, DC.

The Bizarre World Of Frank Zappa Hologram Tour


In 1974, FRANK ZAPPA transformed his Los Angeles rehearsal space into a sound stage and cranked out some unbelievable performances seen and heard only by the camera operators in the room. The audio from these performances–locked away in the ZAPPA vaults for 44 years–will serve as the basis for what will be the world’s most ambitious hologram tour to date. The “can’t miss” concert spectacle is being produced by Eyellusion in close cooperation with the ZAPPA FAMILY TRUST.

The “Bizarre World of Frank Zappa” hologram tour band is comprised of former ZAPPA bandmates for this monumental series of shows. The touring unit boasts guitarists Ray White and Mike Keneally, bassist Scott Thunes, multi-instrumentalist Robert Martin, percussionist Ed Mann, and drummer and ZAPPA archivist Joe “Vaultmeister” Travers.

The Bizarre World Of Frank Zappa U.S. dates are as follows:

4/19 Port Chester, NY Capitol Theater
4/20 Rochester, NY Kodak Center Theater
4/22 Red Bank, NJ Count Basie
4/24 Long Island, NY Paramount Theatre
4/26 Boston, MA Shubert
4/28 Albany, NY The Palace Theatre
5/01 Wilkes Barre, PA Kirby Center
5/02 Collingswood, NJ Scottish Rite Auditorium
5/03 Baltimore, MD The Modell Lyric

The European shows are as follows:

5/09 Edinburgh, UK Playhouse
5/11 Gateshead, UK Sage
5/12 Manchester, UK Bridgewater Hall
5/13 Birmingham, UK Symphony Hall
5/14 London, UK The Palladium
5/16 Ostend, BE Kurssal
5/17 Amsterdam, NL Rai Theater