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Astral Spirits

Nate Cross' cornerstone label for jazz and improvised music based out of Austin, Texas and influenced by Cross' time in Chicago.

Icepick is the super-power trio of some of the busiest musicians on this planet – American, Brooklyn-based trumpeter Nate Wooley, Norwegian, Austin-based bass player Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, and American, Upstate New York-based drummer Chris Corsano. Hellraiser is already the third album of this trio and was recorded live in February 2018, on the occasion of a gathering supporting the Option series at Experimental Sound Studios (ESS) in Chicago. Originally, this performance was slated for another Wooley-led group, and only last-minute travel issues led to the rare occasion where all three members of Icepick happened to be free for the date in Chicago. The ESS continues to host and facilitate online Quarantine Concert Series even in this coronavirus lockdown era, reminding all of us what we used to celebrate not so long ago. The infrequent meetings of this trio do not affect the immediate flow of the music and the profound, telepathic interplay of Wooley, Håker Flaten & Corsano, all are masters of free-improvised format. The three collective, improvised pieces highlight their great experience and focus on structuring loose compositions through improvisation techniques, on account of powerful, wild eruptions but, still, with the fiery excitement of such a performance. Håker Flaten & Corsano build mighty yet quite flexible rhythmic patterns on the opening piece «El-Bound», fueling the soaring flights and deep whispers of Wooley. Wooley sketches «Chicago Deader» as a moving ballad while Håker Flaten & Corsano color his singing melody with disturbing, restless colors, slowly building a massive pulse. The last and longest piece, the 17-minutes «Blueline» cements the reserved atmosphere of this performance. The fractured rhythmic patterns of Håker Flaten & Corsano are the basis for Wooley’s intense employment of an array of extended breathing techniques, but soon enough all three musicians calibrate perfectly on their own dance. First in wild moves but later in more suggestive, poetic moves, repeating, again and again, the simple, melodic theme, all the way until the ecstatic coda, without raising hell, but still in perfect shape. --- NATE WOOLEY - Trumpet INGEBRIGT HÅKER FLATEN - Bass CHRIS CORSANO - Drums --- Released 2020; Astral Spirits

Icepick – Hellraiser

"Back in 2018, I was invited by Dave Rempis to participate in the Exposure Series at Elastic Arts in Chicago. The Series was for me a shining example of artist-lead organizing of different yet connected communities around the Music. From my standpoint, it is yet another in the continuum of such actions, specifically in Chicago, and has been a major inspiration for my work as an artist and for the material on this recording. The ensemble was assembled by Mr. Rempis, and was the first time the group had ever played together. The experience was immensely moving and was a major event in my own musical development, having the chance to lead a collective ensemble of true pillars in Creative Music. Later that year, I was invited back to Chicago by Ken Vandermark for the Option Series at Experimental Sound Studio. It was then when I was able to schedule a recording and subsequent concert with the group, revisiting the material conceived by the ensemble earlier that year. As for the actual composition, I wanted to showcase the collectivism of the sounds produced in that first meeting. With that in mind I listened back to the first recording and transcribed different movements, motifs, and themes, plus added a few original composition ideas. We then recorded these collective compositions, first in a private recording session, second in front of an audience at Elastic Arts, where the Quintet first met. What is presented here on this double album is a collection of both sessions. I want to convey again the collectivity of the Quintet. The concept of being a (C)omposer is a result of centuries of musical hierarchy, regarded and celebrated as the ultimate form of a musical artist. The example set out by the journeys of many in Improvised Music, including the gentlemen on this recording, allows for exploration of "composition" in true collective non-hierarchical form. There are no single series of notes, timbres, and dynamics conceived previously by an individual that was then imposed. Rather the Music was allowed to be presented with equal representation from each individual. The "Composer" here, is merely the organizer of the spirit energy of the ensemble. This is the nature of the beautiful offering that This Music provides." -- Luke Stewart, July 2020.  --- Luke Stewart - Bass, Compositions Edward Wilkerson, Jr. - Reeds Ken Vandermark - Reeds Jim Baker - Piano Avreeayl Ra - Drums --- Released: Oct 2020, Astral Spirits

Luke Stewart – Exposure Quintet

Saxophonist Mars Williams is most famous as a member of The Psychedelic Furs, but has proven his jazz bona fides with Peter Brötzmann and Ken Vandermark, and while guiding Liquid Soul and Hal Russell's NRG Ensemble, to name just a few. Williams also leads the Albert Ayler tribute band Witches & Devils, and out of their holiday concerts grew a unique tradition. One listen and you'll hear that, as odd as that concept may seem, it's brilliantly effective, with the disparate melodies working together in their common projection of joy and celebration -- which is painfully needed at this point in time amidst the current climate. For the last four years, along with the annual Chicago performances, Williams brough "An Ayler Xmas", to select cities in the US & Europe, featuring local improvisers from each host city. This particular album showcases two specific group performances from the 2019 touring in Chicago and NYC. These recordings highlight the unique personalities of the individual players Williams convenes, using some of the same material as jumping off points, each group creates an entirely unique sound that pays tribute to Ayler, the spirit of xmas and joyous improvisatio --- Side A: Chicago MARS WILLIAMS – SAX, TOY INSTRUMENTS JOSH BERMAN – CORNET JIM BAKER – PIANO, VIOLA, ARP SYNTH KENT KESSLER – BASS BRIAN SANDSTROM – BASS, GUITAR, TRUMPET STEVE HUNT – DRUMS Side B: New York MARS WILLIAMS - SAX, TOY INSTRUMENTS STEVE SWELL - TROMBONE HILLIARD GREENE - BASS CHRIS CORSANO - DRUMS NELS CLINE - GUITAR FRED LONBERG-HOLM - CELLO --- Released Nov 2020, Astral Spirits

Mars Williams – Mars Williams Presents An Ayler Xmas Vol. 4: Chicago vs. NYC

حمد [Ahmed] – the quartet of Pat Thomas, Antonin Gerbal, Joel Grip and Seymour Wright – make music of heavy rhythm, repetition and syncopation set deep into an understanding of jazz and the obscure depths of its history. Recorded live at Cafe OTO at the launch of the previous record 'Super Majnoon [East Meets West]’ the group work and rework the music of the late musician Ahmed Abdul-Malik to create a stamping, swinging, relentlessly propulsive record where profundity and physicality root right back to ecstatic feeling --- "The journey of self-discovery, communing with the eternal sound. A musician steeped in multiple worlds; oceans apart yet closely connected in ancestral memory. Musicians such as Ahmed Abdul-Malik were able to experience the global community of sound warriors, drawing inspiration from ancient cultures to support personal investigation. The connection was made clear, the music of Africa would certainly influence the African in America despite the atrocities of the Middle Passage, chattel slavery, and continued racist violence that sought to sever any connection to the continent. The beauty of Malik’s investigation is this original fusion of new music (Jazz) of the African in America with ancient music of Africa. It is a shining example of collaboration in culture, where the music is allowed to shine for itself. This is the inspiration that is being tapped, being explored in this collaboration where rhythm is the basis for the sound. Just like Malik, they allow the spirit of the collective push the sound as the music develops into exalted chaos. Joy Be Upon Us!" - Luke Stewart --- Arranged by [AHMED] Pat Thomas - Piano Joel Grip - Bass Antonin Gerbal - Drums Seymour Wright - Alto saxophone --- Recorded live at Cafe OTO, London, December 5th, 2019. Recording: Shaun Cook Mixing: Billy Steiger Mastering: Mikey Young --- Inner-sleeve text: ' Origins Revisited' by Pat Thomas (2004) Cover photo of Ahmed Abdul-Malik at the Cabana Club, New York City, 1965 Produced: Astral Spirits / Seymour Wright --- Released: Astral Spirits, 2021

[Ahmed] – Nights on Saturn (communication)

The trio of Chicagoans Josh Berman (cornet) and Jason Roebke (double bass) and English free improvisation legend Paul Lytton came together in 2016 for a short European tour. The trio presented music from Berman’s critically acclaimed recording A Dance and a Hop on Delmark Records. On the course of the tour, the music became freer and freer, finally arriving at a unique language where trad jazz and pure sound improv come together. It’s a truly fresh sound and context for these three improvisers. "Berman’s puckered tone, fatback licks and tart smears—as ever bridging the gap between the garrulous, vocalic excursions of Ellington trumpeters like Bubber Miley and Rex Stewart and modern seekers like Wadada Leo Smith and Nate Wooley--are steadily buffeted by the rhythm section’s shifting gambits. The bassist unfurls deep, woody lines and the drummer peppers his flow with wonderfully jarring, chaotic accents, but despite the turbulence they forge an inexorable sense of forward motion, providing a platform for the cornetist to toggle masterfully between lyric flurries and knotted outbursts." - Peter Margasak --- Josh Berman / cornet Paul Lytton / percussion Jason Roebke / bass --- Recorded by: JD Service (Jose & Marco Dicati) at Cinema Torresino, Padova, Italy - April 7, 2018.Jason Roebke at Fri Form, Trondheim, Norway - April 11, 2018. Mixed by Todd A. Carter and Jason Roebke at belAir, Chicago.Mastered by Alan Jones at Laminal Audio. Thanks to Ståle Liavik Solberg, Tollef Østvang, and Stefano Merighi. Design by Jaime Zuverza.Layout by Drew Liverman.

Berman, Lytto, Roebke – Trio Discrepancies