Kyle Bruckmann's Wrack, Ballister | Constellation | Jazz | Chicago Reader
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Kyle Bruckmann's Wrack, Ballister Recommended Soundboard

When: Fri., March 28, 9:30 p.m. 2014
Price: $12
Former Chicagoan Kyle Bruckmann has always balanced radically different aesthetics, including unhinged but carefully structured aggression in his old “rock” band Lozenge (where he played electric accordion and keyboards) and thought-provoking abstraction in EKG, his long-running duo with Ernst Karel (where he augments his primary instrument, the oboe, with electronics). That diversity has continued to grow since Bruckmann moved to the Bay Area in 2003—for the past week I’ve been basking in a few of his recent albums, including 2011’s Psychotic Redaction (Multikulti), a collection of corrosively visceral, snake-charming improvisations with Jim Baker and Michael Zerang, and last year’s Technological Music Vol. 1 (Entr’acte), whose electroacoustic solo experiments collide oboe and English horn with analog-synthesizer noise and keyboard patterns in exercises as energizing as they are intellectual. On 2012’s On Procedural Grounds (New World) he combines many of these approaches, playing oboe against Matt Ingalls’s clarinet on “Cell Structure” and using rigorous composed material to provoke high-level improvisation on the title track, which features an expanded version of his long-running Chicago-based quintet, Wrack. That group typically consists of Bruckmann, drummer Tim Daisy, bassist Anton Hatwich, bass clarinetist Jason Stein, and violist Jen Clare Paulson, but for this concert it’ll be enhanced by North Carolina trombonist Jeb Bishop (a former Chicagoan as well as a former member of Wrack) and Bay Area trumpeter Darren Johnston. Wrack is currently supporting what might be its greatest achievement: . . . Awaits Silent Tristero’s Empire (Singlespeed Music), a four-part suite inspired by the novels of Thomas Pynchon. Bruckmann embeds fast-flying tropes and melodies from classic jazz in his shape-shifting compositions—a kind of nod to Pynchon’s referential gamesmanship—and Wrack negotiates the tricky tunes with its usual breathless precision, adding a satisfyingly off-kilter swing and infectious sense of fun that I’ve never heard from the ensemble before. I can’t wait to hear what new places this seven-piece lineup takes the material live. Opening the show is Ballister, a fire-breathing trio of saxophonist Dave Rempis, drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, and cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm. —Peter Margasak



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