Jaimie Branch, Keefe Jackson, Kent Kessler, and Steve Hunt; Ballrogg | Elastic | Jazz | Chicago Reader
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Jorn Stenersen

Jaimie Branch, Keefe Jackson, Kent Kessler, and Steve Hunt; Ballrogg 

When: Thu., Oct. 8, 9 p.m. 2015
Price: $10 suggested donation
The addition of guitarist Ivar Grydeland has opened up the music of Norwegian group Ballrogg, which until last year’s gorgeous Cabin Music (Hubro) had been a duo of bassist Roger Arntzen (also of In the Country) and reedist Klaus Ellerhusen Holm. Grydeland’s participation transforms their mix of chamber jazz and hypnotic post-Morton Feldman minimalism, grounded by Arntzen’s imperturbable, rustic pulse, into something richly lyrical and sumptuously colored. Whether laying down oozing pedal-­steel parts (often in tidy unison with Holm’s plangent clarinet) or playing brittle, twangy banjo, Grydeland helps the group achieve a strikingly cinematic quality. Ballrogg haven’t released any new records since then, but this weekend they return to Chicago with inventive Swedish guitarist David Stäckenas subbing for Grydeland—a personnel change that promises to remake the group’s sound all over again. Stäckenas is a remarkable player, but he’s more interested in texture and abstraction than in languid melody, often deploying tabletop preparations to generate frictive noise.
— Peter Margasak



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