AMN Reviews: Jazz em Agosto – Part I

By Irwin Block (irblock@hotmail.com)
Photo credit: Petra Cvelbar

LISBON – Resistance and the drive to identify political oppression is the theme of this year’s 36th Jazz em Agosto festival. It began Aug. 1 and continues until Aug. 11.

That spirit was at the heart of the 45-minute, hard-hitting avant-rock performance by ABACAXI, the French trio led by electric guitarist Julie Desprez, which kicked off the second half of this eight-day festival Thursday night. This is a tight and well-oiled music machine with Jean François Riffaud (electric bass) and the powerful and expressive drumming of German national Max Andrzejewski. Alternating light and darkness and heavy and loud with silent pauses, Desprez punctuated the first piece, called 1984, with a variety of sounds from his guitar and special effects, grating, rattles, and sirens, ending in calming long tones. The second piece featured some dazzling drum riffs including one segment when Andrzejewski stood behind his cymbals tapping out dramatic patterns. The third piece continued in a similar vein, dark but not morbid, angry but not desperate, conflictual but not without hints of harmony, ending in a wall of sound fading to silence.

French violinist Théo Ceccaldi and his sextet called Freaks later offered a more accessible program that was bright and lively, a mix that has been described as punk jazz because it combines punk-rock energy with avant improv and wild excursions that soar above the pulse. Ceccaldi loves to play melody in rapid-fire bursts reminiscent of French violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, albeit with a more adventuresome outlook. Wearing black leotards and a white print shirt, Ceccaldi is the group’s energetic mainspring. The music was fun, upbeat, and the solos by a kilt-wearing Mathieu Metzger on alto sax and Quentin Biardeau on tenor sax were electrifying, with lots of dissonant elements that fit the overall musical scheme. The audience at the outdoor amphitheater – for the most part transfixed – demanded and received a double encore.

The drum-percussion duo of Joey Baron and Robyn Schulkowsky was the opposite of a traditional drummer’s battle. Instead, they performed a lovers’ dance. They began tapping out rhythms with their hands in call-and-response exchanges, playful conversations, and tonal games. Baron might be tapping out patterns on his snare drum, while Schulkowsky contrasted with the sounds from her set of gongs. Their playful conversation explored sonic subtleties and microtones. Baron depended mainly on brushes and his hands rather than sticks, and silences were part of the soundscape. An exception was an Afro Cuban-style exercise in counter-rhythms that was applauded vigorously. Commenting on the festival theme, Schulkowsky told the audience that “resistance is every day, personal and private, and we must,” then offered a tribute to anti-segregation activist Rosa Parks, a gentle and loving exchange featuring clicks, bells, and ending with slow, long tones, delivered tenderly.

The most thrilling concert of the first two nights was delivered by drummer Tomas Fujiwara and his Triple Double formation, featuring drummer Gerald Cleaver, electric guitarists Mary Halvorson and Brandon Seabrook, trumpeter Ralph Alessi and cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum. The interplay among those with similar instruments gave this concert a special flavor and intensity. It was compelling, artful, and possibly the most memorable in my experience as a jazz writer. I was blown away. Intriguing melodies, high-energy delivery, original solos that fit well into the overall development added up to a never-ending display of joyful creativity. Seabrook was on fire, playing standing up, punctuating the music with his sculpting attack and tonal explosions. Halvorson, with her guitar over her knee, was less audible in the mix although we did hear some colorful, melodic explorations from her. Bynum too was on fire, playing a leadership role in the band and injecting exploratory bursts into the mix while Alessi was more lyrical. A lengthy drum duet that was all about harmony and complicity was among the show’s highlights. The encore featured each musician playing a few bars in series.

Chicago Scene: August 10-16, 2019

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

Saturday, August 10th 2019

9:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($12)
Wendy Eisenberg, Shane Parish
Steve Marquette

Sunday, August 11th 2019

7:30PM at The Boxcar, 1113 W Berwyn, 773.649.3186
Christopher Dammann, James Davis, Avreeayl Ra

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($10)
Slow Bell Trio : Steven Hess, Mike Weis, Keefe Jackson
Chloe Yu Nong Lin

9:00PM at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W Belmont (wheelchair-accessible)
Dave Rempis, Peter Maunu, Jakob Heinemann, Bill Harris
Keiran Daly Quartet with Sarah Clausen, Jason Roebke, Phil Sudderberg

Monday, August 12th 2019

7:30PM at Experimental Sound Studio, 5925 N Ravenswood, 773.769.1069 ($10-$8) (wheelchair-accessible)
Joe Morris with Andrew Clinkman

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

Tuesday, August 13th 2019

9:00PM at Elastic, 3429 W Diversey, #208, 773.772.3616 ($10)
Ken Vandermark, Joe Morris
Ken Vandermark, Joe Morris, Ben Hall

Friday, August 16th 2019

7:00PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($50-$100)
Experimental Sound Studio 2019 Gala : Honoring Luminary George E Lewis
George Lewis, Sam Pluta, Mwata Bowden
Rob Mazurek, Kim Alpert
Ken Vandermark, Claire Rousay, Macie Stewart
Angel Bat Dawid, Douglas R Ewart
Kotoka Suzuki
Katie Wood

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

http://now-is.org/, http://www.ratchetmusic.com, http://www.mcachicago.org, http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/chicago_culturalcenterschedule.html, http://www.skylarkchicago.com, http://www.hideoutchicago.com, http://www.elasticrevolution.com, http://www.myopicbookstore.com/music.html, http://www.lampo.org, http://dalniente.com, http://iceorg.org/events/category/chicago, http://www.emptybottle.com/

Jazzword Reviews 

Source: Jazzword.

Ocean Fanfare
First Nature

Angelika Niescier
New York Trio

Die Hochstapler
The Quick Brown Fox Jumps over the Lazy Dog

Burton Greene/Damon Smith/Ra-Kalam Bob Moses
Life’s Intense Mystery

Thomas Olbrechts
Inertia

Michaël Attias
èchos la nuit

Joachim Zoepf
Geschmacksarbeit

Parlato/Chagas/Lenglet/Gibbs
Wasteland

Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter

Source: Downtown Music Gallery.

The Downtown Music Gallery 28th Anniversary Celebrations began on May 1st & Continues! Every In-store This Summer Helps Celebrate the Spirit of Creative Music Performed Live.

Sunday, August 11th:
6pm: ATLANTIC EXTRACTION: LOUNA DEKKER-VARGAS / LEDAH FINCK / TAL YAHALOM /
NICK DUNSTON / STEPHEN BOEGEHOLD – Flute / Violin / Guitar / Bass / Drums
7pm: CAROLINE DAVIS and KIM CASS – Alto Sax and Bass

Sunday, August 18th:
6pm: BEN GOLDBERG / SIMON JERMYN / RYAN FERREIRA – Clarinet Two Guitars
7pm: JACK WRIGHT / EVAN LIPSON / ZACH DARRUP – Alto Sax / Contrabass / Guitar

Sunday, August 25h:
6pm: AARON RUBINSTEIN / WILLIAM PARKER / KEVIN MURRAY –
Guitar / Bass / Drums!
7pm: CAMILLA NEBBIA / JOANNA MATTREY / VIOLETA GARCIA / DIANA ARIAS –
Tenor Sax / Viola / Cello / Double Bass!

Sunday, September 1st:
6pm: SAM WEINBERG / WEASEL WALTER / HENRY FRASER – Tenor Sax / Drums / Contrabass!

Sunday, September 8th:
6pm: KYLE MOTL / KEIR GoGWILT – Contrabass / Violin!
7pm: FEDERICO UGHI / DANIEL CARTER / PATRICK HOLMES –
Drums / Reeds & Trumpet / Clarinet!

DMG is located at 13 Monroe St. (between Catherine & Market Sts) in a basement below a small gallery. Take the F train to East Broadway or the 6 train to Canal or the B or D to Grand, or the M-15 bus to Madison & Catherine. Come on Down, the Sunday Music Series is Always Free & the Vibes are Always Cosy. You can check the weekly in-store sets through our Instagram feed

REDCAT Fall Schedule

Source: REDCAT. Highlights of the Fall season include:

Oct 03 to Oct 05
Angel City Jazz Festival
The 2019 Angel City Jazz festival arrives at REDCAT with a double bill: critically acclaimed Anna Webber’s Simple Trio and Jenny Scheinman & Allison Miller’s Parlour Game. The festival continues with another double bill: Katisse + Diatom Ribbons.

Nov 10 to Nov 11
Studio: Fall 2019
REDCAT’s quarterly program of new works and works-in-progress highlights new forms of dance, theater, music and multimedia performance in a wide-ranging evening that celebrates the vitality of LA’s artists making work for the stage.

Nov 16
Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, with Liturgy and CalArts’ Sonic Boom dir. Ulrich Krieger: Origin of the Alimonies
Origin of the Alimonies is a multidisciplinary opera by Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, the founder of Liturgy, the “transcendental black metal” band which The New York Times praised as “hungry for other musical languages, devouring them and putting them to work.”

Dec 11
Julia Holter and Isaura String Quartet: hum
Using the vulnerability of the human voice as a connective thread, the Isaura String Quartet weaves together a program of music exploring hidden layers, transformations, and unspoken realities.