Ballister | Hungry Brain | Jazz | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Sun., April 1, 10 p.m. 2012
Price: $10 suggested donation
On the second Ballister album, Mechanisms (Clean Feed), this scorching local free-jazz trio occasionally indulges in a moment of repose, with saxophonist Dave Rempis shaping muted striations, drummer Paal Nilssen-Love gently scraping his cymbals, and cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm bowing almost serene long tones. But make no mistake: though the the three of them have been working together as Ballister for a couple of years, they don't seem to be getting tired of going all-out pretty much all the time. The second half of the new album is a 28-minute workout called "Roller Nuts"—most of the group's titles have a blunt crudity that harks back to early Peter Brötzmann records like Balls and Nipples, just as the energy level of the music does—and it makes me feel like a building is collapsing on me. The members of Ballister have much more to offer than furious freak-outs, though. In each piece they constantly shift gears, changing texture (particularly Lonberg-Holm, who plays his effects pedals as much as his cello), rhythmic feel, and density, which requires them to stay attuned to one another and adjust on the fly—and it's hard to miss the the exuberant snatches of buoyant, hard-swinging jazz that pop out of the din. Naysayers might say that Ballister—like free jazz in general—is just squawking and noise, but that's what most unfamiliar music sounds like if you refuse to really listen to it. —Peter Margasak



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