Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Vox Arcana, back from tour, play the Hideout on Wednesday

Posted By on 07.28.09 at 08:28 PM

2829/1248798532-jfalzone_pressphoto1_m.jpgWe're about to hear a lot from James Falzone, one of the best straight-up clarinet players in Chicago’s jazz and improvised-music community—most other jazz musicians who play clarinet treat it as an accessory to their saxophones, but for Falzone it's his principal horn. His quartet Klang—with vibist Jason Adasiewicz, bassist Jason Roebke, and drummer Tim Daisy—has a new album on the way called Tea Music (the release show is at the Hideout on September 23) and a gig at the Chicago Jazz Festival, where the band will pay homage to Benny Goodman. Tomorrow night he plays at the Hideout with cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm as part of Daisy's trio Vox Arcana, which is just back from a short tour of the southeast.

According to Daisy, Vox Arcana’s compositions look to three distinct sources of inspiration: the New York School composers (Earle Brown, Morton Feldman, John Cage), early minimalists LaMonte Young and Terry Riley, and key AACM figures Anthony Braxton, Muhal Richard Abrams, and Leroy Jenkins. On the trio's self-titled debut the pieces create a productive tension between written sections and wide-open improvisation: rigorously structured, highly kinetic parts dissolve into spontaneous eruptions where lines and textures collide in exhilarating bursts. Lonberg-Holm's bowing alternates between viscous and delicate, and he sometimes adds heavy electronic effects to his output. Daisy, in other settings a ferociously driving drummer, focuses on color and clatter here; on some pieces he even adds marimba. Falzone is the one player who keeps it simple, his buoyant tone dancing amid the chaos or leaping into his instrument’s upper register for a paint-peeling squeal. You can listen to their piece "Anketa" at the bottom of this page.

Vox Arcana plays the first set on a double bill with violist Jessica Pavone and guitarist Mary Halvorson, the New York duo I wrote about in this week’s paper. Halvorson is one of the most exciting and original guitarists in improvised music today, and while this duo plays folksy written tunes—albeit packed with heady improv—she’s just as potent without prepared material. The recent Crackleknob (Hatology), a superb album cut in 2006 with trumpeter Nate Wooley and bassist Reuben Radding, is a stunning display of musical empathy—the players quickly pick up on one another’s impromptu gestures, sometimes limning one another, sometimes forming inverse complements, and sometimes going against the grain. No matter what the strategy, the music is strikingly cohesive, prompting the question: Improvised or composed? Halvorson plays both gnarled tangles of fast-flying notes and cleanly articulated lines that draw equally from jazz and rock—she’s long cited Deerhoof’s John Dieterich as a favorite guitarist, and you can hear his influence now and again.

Tomorrow’s double bill also features gallery proprietor and occasional Reader contributor John Corbett spinning “Radio Dada, Side B,” a reference to the no-holds-barred free-form show he used to do on the University of Chicago’s radio station, WHPK.

And in closing, a moment of silence please for brilliant jazz pianist, composer, arranger, educator, and theoretician George Russell, who died last night at the age of 86.

photo: Michelle Harris

Today’s playlist:

Sir Victor Uwaifo, Guitar-Boy Superstar 1970-76 (Soundway)
Abyssinians & Friends, Tree of Satta (Blood & Fire)
Moha!, One-Way Ticket to Candyland (Rune Grammofon)
Yuriy Yaremchuk, Mark Tokar, and Klaus Kugel, Yatoku (Not Two)
George Jones, A Picture of Me (Without You) / Nothing Ever Hurt Me (Half as Bad as Losing You) (American Beat)

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