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Jazz / Free Jazz
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
The Other Side of Time is the first album to be released by Chicago based percussionist Quin Kirchner. The album features the excellent ensemble of Nick Broste on trombone, Nate Lepine on flute and tenor saxophone, Jason Stein on bass clarinet, and Matt Ulery on bass. The album is comprised of roughly half original tunes by Kirchner and half covers of music by Sun Ra, Charles Mingus, Andrew Hill, Arthur Verocai, Paul Motian, and Kelan Phil Cohran.
Quin Kirchner - drums, percussion, kalimba, sampler, wurlitzer Nick Broste - trombone Nate Lepine - tenor saxophone, flute Jason Stein - bass clarinet Matt Ulery - bass Ben Boye - piano on Together...
Recorded at Minbal & Future House in Chicago, IL
Released 2018, Astral Spirits
Quin Kirchner – The Other Side of Time
“The Reinvention of Romance,” a new work for percussion and cello that examines the care and empathy that emerge when two lives share space. Over the course of 90 minutes, a series of repeating patterns creates a peculiar kind of harmony in which two musicians are rarely “playing together” but are nonetheless intimately bonded. The Knoxville-based duo Two-Way Street (Ashlee Booth and Adam Lion) commissioned Hennies to compose “a very long piece;” for this recording they step into its two intertwining roles.
Composed by Sarah Hennies Performed by Two-Way Street: Ashlee Booth, cello & Adam Lion, percussion
Released 2020; Astral Spirits
Sarah Hennies – The Reinvention of Romance
"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)
Kuzu was formed only in 2017 but the trio already has a stellar reputation in noise-jazz circles, so their torrid pace of production is a windfall. Even if their upcoming third offering got delayed a bit due to the pandemic.
The Glass Delusion— out March 5, 2021 from Astral Spirits Records — was recorded live and without any pre-thought like all Kuzu releases. It even draws from the same 2018 tour as some of those other records were culled from.
Kuzu recordings are highly instinctual and intuitional; the same can be said about any quality improv music unit. Where Kuzu makes its mark is that each of its members, Dave Rempis (saxes), Tashi Dorji (guitar) and Tyler Damon (drums), are highly individualistic musicians who play their instruments well outside the bounds of conformity. There are sounds you don’t often hear from each of these instruments and even less so as a group. Add to that their penchant for zigging when you expect them to zag, and it all adds up to adventurous and rewarding listening experience.
DAVE REMPIS - alto/tenor/baritone saxophones TASHI DORJI - guitar TYLER DAMON - drums
Released 2021; Astral Spirits
Kuzu – The Glass Delusion
Astral Spirits presents The Ritual and the Dance by Roscoe Mitchell & Mike Reed. Recorded by Michael Huon at the Oorstof concert series. Zuiderpershuis, Antwerp, Belgium, October 22, 2015. Live concert produced by Sound in Motion.
Roscoe Mitchell: reeds Mike Reed: drums, electronics
Released 2019, Astral Spirits
Roscoe Mitchell & Mike Reed – The Ritual and the Dance
"The title of this album captures faithfully the urgent and restless atmosphere of this meeting. Amado and Corsano soar instantly into dense, turbulent stratosphere like there is no tomorrow. Both play with boundless energy, relying on their deep understanding of the art of the moment and super-fast instincts." - Eyal Hareuveni, The Free Jazz Collective
Rodrigo Amado / tenor saxophone
Chris Corsano/ drums
All compositions by Amado / Corsano
Recorded by Joaquim Monte at Manouche Studios, Lisbon, July 14th, 2014.
Mixed by Joaquim Monte and Rodrigo AmadoMastered by Tó Pinheiro da SilvaProduced by Rodrigo AmadoExectuve production by Nate CrossDesign & Layout by Jaime Zuverza.
Special thanks to Jaoquim Monte, Pedro Gomes, Gabriel Ferrandini, Miguel Mira, Luis Lopes, Jóse Bruno Parrinha and Eva Cipriano.
Rodrigo Amado & Chris Corsano – No Place to Fall
Performing in concert at Iklectik in London in 2017, the UK and Norwegian free improvising trio of Pat Thomas on Moog Theremini & IPad based electronics, John Butcher on saxophones, and Stale Liavik Solberg on drums & percussion impress through a mix of masterful free playing and eclectic electroacoustic conversations, an adventurous and wonderfully unpredictable set.
Pat Thomas / moog theremini & ipad based electronics
John Butcher / saxophones
Ståle Liavik Solberg / drums & percussion
In Concert at Iklectik, "Old Paradise Yard", London - 19 July 2017.Recorded by Giovanni La Rovere.Mixed by John ButcherMastered by Alan Jones at Laminal Audio
All music by Thomas / Butcher / Solberg (PRS/TONO)Thanks to Eduard Solaz.
Layout & Design by Jamie Zuverza.
Thomas, Butcher, Solberg – Fictional Souvenirs
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
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
"What better album to release for our 100th release in our 5th year here at Astral Spirits. A long time coming, we're incredibly proud to finally present to you the debut release from the trio of SUSAN ALCORN, JOE McPHEE & KEN VANDERMARK." Poem below by Joe McPhee:
LESS THAN ZERO
Clouded reflectionsBroken dreamsNightmare creaturesFlying
How could this happenWhat does it meanEmpty echoesFading
Tomorrow yesTomorrow noDo we stayOrDo we go
Tomorrow yes... more
Susan Alcorn / pedal steel guitar
Joe McPhee / soprano saxophone & pocket trumpet
Ken Vandermark / tenor saxophone & clarinet
Recorded by Ian Rundell September 13th, 2017 in Austin, TX.Produced, mixed & mastered by Alan Jones at Laminal Audio.Cover Art by Bill Nace.Layout by Bill Nace & Rosali Middleman
Compositions written by Susan Alcorn (UMA Sounds, ASCAP), Joe McPhee (JOMAC Publishing, ASCAP), & Ken Vandermark (Twenty First Mobile Music, ASCAP - Cien Fuegos)
We lovingly dedicate this album to refugees, immigrants, and the persecuted wherever they may be.
Alcorn, McPhee, Vandermark – Invitation To A Dream
"The trio of guitarist Tetuzi Akiyama, saxophonist Gregor Vidic, and drummer Nicolas Field introduces Akiyama to Vidic and Field's standing duo. The result is a magnificent set of exploratory improvisation. Vidic and Field's playing has a rich, textural quality, developed through their use of timbre and dynamics. In this way, Akiyama's multiphonic approach to guitar, and his innovative use of effects, offset's Vidic brilliantly. Over the course of 45 minutes, Akiyama, Vidic, and Field generate a nervy tension, walking razor thin lines, such as the ones threaded through the middle of "Inner Circle." In keeping with the overall Astral Spirits aesthetic, and as a capstone to their anniversary year, the trio's music is at times stateless, at other times murky and brooding, and yet it's always highly engaging, rich and thrilling." - Lee Rice Epstein, The Free Jazz Collective
Tetuzi Akiyama / electric guitar
Nicolas Field / drums & percussion
Gregor Vidic / tenor saxophone
Recorded at Gok Sound, Tokyo, July 19, 2017 by Yoshiaki Kondo. Mixed at Konnekt SoundLab by Nicolas Field. Mastered by Mikey Young. Thanks to Rhizome DC for hosting that great Astral Spirits event, Nate and all involved.
Akiyama, Field, Vidic – Interpersonal Subjectivities
Phase Eclipse is the debut of a duo featuring electronics musician Lea Bertucci and vocalist Amirtha Kidambi (both play other instruments, but not on this album). Even to say Bertucci’s on electronics is somewhat misleading, as her instrument on the album is, primarily, a reel-to-reel tape machine, which she uses to manipulate live recording of Kidambi’s vocals. The result is somewhat reminiscent of Peter Evans Quintet, where Sam Pluta plays a similar role as Bertucci does here. But the tactility of the tape reels warp sound in ways digital electronics can only mimic, and Kidambi vocals are, for those familiar with her quartet Elder Ones and Darius Jones’s Elizabeth-Caroline Unit, tremendously complex and equally tactile. Not unlike KVL, the layers of complexity can take a few listens to track, but plumbing the depths is highly rewarding." - Lee Rice Epstein, Free Jazz Blog
"What results is a music that’s simultaneously visceral and cerebral, intellectual and spiritual, and unlike anything else you’ve heard." - Steve Smith on Phase Eclipse
Recorded January 2019 at Pioneer Works and The Kitchen.Tracks 1-4 recorded by Justin Frye.Mixed & Mastered by Lea Bertucci.
Special thank you to Pioneer Works and The Kitchen. Side B dedicated to Ellen O'Meara.
Amirtha Kidambi & Lea Bertucci – Phase Eclipse