Last Sunday, Anna Webber brought her latest ensemble, Shimmer Wince, to Chicago as part of its brief midwestern tour. A five-piece consisting of Webber on sax and flute, Adam O’Farrill on trumpet, Mariel Roberts on cello, Elias Stemeseder on synth, and Lesley Mok on drums, this outfit has not been recorded yet. But given Webber’s history of producing joyously intricate modern creative music, I could not justify missing the event.
And the group did not disappoint. Webber’s compositions have a Braxtonian flair – in terms of general similarity yet with a different approach. The pieces were partially microtonal and unsurprisingly discordant. While there were moments of improv, notably a hint of hard bop between Webber and O’Farrill, the group sight-read Webber’s charts and generally stuck to her labyrinthine structures.
Roberts, Stemeseder, and Mok stayed busy throughout. I was familiar with the works of Roberts and Stemeseder from their various recordings. Mok was a pleasant surprise in her ability to provide percussion with the ideal level of assertiveness without overtly drawing attention to herself.
I had some concern that the show might suffer from poor attendance due to it being on an Easter Sunday during Passover, but the venue (Hungry Brain) was full to the point of a number of attendees standing. Since Webber and company put on a performance at least as good as any I saw during the previous weekend’s Big Ears Festival, I am glad that they received some well-deserved recognition.
I was so captivated during the 45-minute set that I forgot to take pictures until the very end when the band was finished. Thus, the photo below is not great but does a nice job of memorializing the experience.
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