Improvising trio Icepick renew jazz’s love affair with the El on their third LP, Hellraiser | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Improvising trio Icepick renew jazz’s love affair with the El on their third LP, Hellraiser 

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click to enlarge Icepick


Courtesy of Astral Spirits Records

Sun Ra may have told everyone he was from Saturn, but the Afrofuturistic avant-gardist spent the 1950s in Chicago. While he was here, he recorded “El Is a Sound of Joy,” jazz’s greatest tribute to the city’s public transport system. No one in improvising trio Icepick—bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, trumpeter Nate Wooley, and drummer Chris Corsano—now lives in Chicago (Håker Flaten spent a few years here in the aughts), but in 2018 the group came to town to play a benefit for Experimental Sound Studio’s Option Series, a weekly concert and salon launched in 2015 that served as a beacon for improvisers around the world until COVID-19 closed everything down. Hellraiser, the trio’s splendid third album, was recorded at that gig, which took place at Fulton Street Collective, a near-west-side loft space where it’s possible to hear the Green Line trains when the music goes quiet. So it’s only fitting that two of the LP’s three tracks (“El-Bound” and “Blueline”) are titled in homage to the CTA’s elevated train system. The collective experience of Icepick’s members encompasses a myriad of improvisational possibilities, and their technical acumen allows them to tackle tradition-steeped swing as easily as post-everything noise, but they keep their focus on evolving sonic narratives that resolve each knotty exchange or coarse textural exploration with a nakedly emotional tune.   v

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