Food | Constellation | Jazz | Chicago Reader
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Food

Food

When: Thu., Jan. 22, 9:30 p.m. 2015
Price: $10
When this Norwegian-British ensemble formed at the turn of the century, it was with instrumentation that suggested a modern-jazz combo: drums (Thomas Strønen), bass (Mats Eilertsen), trumpet (Arve Henriksen), and saxophone (Iain Ballamy, the lone Englishman). But from the start Food were on to something else, making a strange species of ambient music that required them to be fluent in several musical dialects—not just jazz but also drone, electronica, and rock. Henriksen specializes in aspirated, muted tones that rarely sound anything like a trumpet, and Strønen never swings, instead augmenting his drum kit with electronics to creates an atmospheric bubbling. After the 2004 album Last Supper, Eilertsen and Henriksen left, but Strønen and Ballamy have carried on, working with a shifting cast of guests that’s included trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer and guitarists Christian Fennesz and Eivind Aarset. On Food’s most recent album, 2012’s Mercurial Balm (ECM), the guests don’t tend to add much more than amorphous textures, though Indian singer-guitarist Prakash Sontakke lends some pieces almost songlike structures. The improvised dialogue between the members of the core duo does the heavy lifting: Ballamy blows gauzy, nasal lines on tenor and soprano, his delicate melodies gliding over Strønen’s gentle metallic clatter and fierce rhythms. For the group’s long-overdue Chicago debut, they’ll perform as a duo, mixing compositions with free improvisations; they’re also likely to preview their album with Fennesz, due this spring. —Peter Margasak
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