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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.

"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

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 Nick Mazzarella Trio was formed in 2008 and for several years remained one of the most active working bands in Chicago’s vibrant jazz scene, performing regularly at clubs and festivals across the city, and recording three albums before drummer Frank Rosaly moved to Amsterdam in 2016. When Rosaly returned for a visit in early 2018, Mazzarella composed a suite of six new pieces for a concert commemorating the trio’s tenth anniversary. That performance, given before a full house at Co-Prosperity Sphere in the south-side neighborhood of Bridgeport, was recorded live on reel to reel tape, and the complete, uncut recording is now available as the trio’s fourth album, Counterbalance. On Counterbalance, the members of the trio bring to bear the collective creative experience they have accumulated over the past decade, displaying a new level of maturity in their interpretation of Mazzarella’s latest compositions—which draw as much from contemporary classical music as from the jazz tradition—and a new level of patience and communication in their highly personal improvisations. As critic John Corbett asserts in his liner notes for the album, the trio’s music is "magnificent, relaxed. It has nothing to prove. The sound is proof enough.” --- NICK MAZZARELLA - alto saxophone ANTON HATWICH - bass FRANK ROSALY - drums --- All compositions by Nick Mazzarella (BMI). Recorded by David Allen and Dave Vettraino on January 19, 2018 at Co-Prosperity Sphere in Bridgeport, Chicago. Mixed & Mastered by Dave Zuchowski. Cover artwork by Morris Barazani, untitled, c. 1950, gouache and varnish on cardstock, 11 x 15 inches, private collective. (Courtesy of Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago). Sleeve photograph by Scottie McNiece. Liner notes by John Corbett. Layout by Drew Liverman. Produced by Nick Mazzarella. Exective production by Nate Cross for Astral Spirits & Quin Kirchner for Spacetone. For Mary A and Nick J—Mom and Dad

Nick Mazzarella Trio – Counterbalance

Love Waves Ecstatic Charge uses visual material to construct sonic architecture. The visuals are one hundred and six still images taken from an experimental video which was initially shot when Mazurek was in residency at Abbaye Royal de Fontevraud, France, 2005. Upon his return from the residency he discovered the camera broken and barely operational other than the fact of being able to extract frame by frame 106 distorted still images and fragmented skipping sound that would on occasion burst through. This material sat untouched for numerous years until recently, whereupon a reinvestigation of the material had such a depth of feeling to it that he used these images and sound to start to construct sonic pieces based on color shifts, granulation, bursts, shape, distortion, textrue and finally text. The text is an affirmation of Life and Breathing, Love and Ecstatic Charge, the constant shifts that occur in daily life creating Waves of Joy and Sorrow and everything in between. Other Sound was eventually collected from various sources, specifically in and around Mies van der Rohe's iconic Farnsworth house in Plano, IL and processed through modular synth and computer. Some of this sound can be heard inside the film he made in collaboration withfilmmaker Lee Ann Schmitt titled: The Farnsworth Scores. Excerpt here: vimeo.com/250349662"I have been making electronic music since the mid 90's as a way of challenging my own way of composing and hearing and seeing and by intense experimentation, to move closer to an all enveloping resonance that has been just out of reach ... but there! ... and over time have created some kind of vocabulary that I hope at the very least is "interesting" at the very most "shattering" In the most cathartic of ways." - Rob Mazurek ---Rob Mazurek / modular synth (digital/analog), computer---Recorded and Mixed, at M.E.S. (Marfa Experimental Studio), Marfa, Texas 2017-18. Mastered by David Allen

Rob Mazurek – Love Waves Ecstatic Charge

Desert Encrypts Volume 1 is a two-part suite based on observations from the desert in and around Marfa, TX. It also explores Mazurek's ongoing fascination with social, psychological, and physiological structures, both terrestrial and extra-terrestrial. The composition includes written music and graphic scores for improvisation. For Desert Encrypts Vol. 1 Mazurek has put together an awe-inspiring new ensemble featuring Kris Davis on piano, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten on bass & Chad Taylor on drums. Recorded live at the Crowley Theater in Marfa, TX during Mazurek's inaugural Desert Encrypts Festival in August 2018, Desert Encrypts Vol. 1 captures the quartet burning through Mazurek's newest compositions like they've been playing together for years (to be fair some of them have been playing together for years). Mazurek has always been associated with the Chicago scene he spent so many years in (as well as his time in Brazil thereafter), but Desert Encrypts Vol 1 is his first album that feels truly Texan to these ears, and we're excited to present a new exciting development in a long string of exciting developments that have marked Mazurek's long and illustrious career. --- Rob Mazurek / Piccolo Trumpet, Electronics Kris Davis / Piano Chad Taylor / Drums Ingebrigt Håker Flaten / Bass Lynn Xu / voice on The Blue Haze --- All music by Rob Mazurek OLHO ASCAP Double True Stereo + 2 Recording, Mix and Master: Ken Christianson, Pro Musica, Chicago   Recorded Live at the Crowley Theater, Marfa, Texas Produced by Britt Mazurek Thank You - Hotel St. George, Marfa Book Co., City of Marfa, Tim Crowley, Rob Crowley, Tim Johnson, Christopher Wool, Charline Von Heyl, Jeff Elrod, Robert Bielecki, Ken Bauso, Chris Newman, Nancy DeDakis, Paco Barba, Cody Barber, Anthony DeSimone, Nate Cross, Monofonus Press.

Rob Mazurak – Desert Encryps Vol. 1

Generational Muse"Forty years ago a group of hipsters fled Manhattan for . . . has it even been that long? I cannot fathom for I’m still alive and so many of my comrades have fallen to age, to the Amerikka machine. We started our Harlem project with great promise, young energy, and foolish intent. We thought that the government should fund our liberations, and as I look back Ishmael Reed was correct in saying that we should have reached out to our black middle class business owners, lawyers and doctors for the money to free our people from the decay of racism, class difference, and n*-ism.The music was always there. For me it was the pulse of the whole enterprise, a stunning tribute to our genius. New music magicians like Sun-Ra, Ornette Coleman, Sonny and Linda Sharrock, those Ayler brothers and the like gave us the language to try anything. There were more of these visionaries than poets, and their work lives longer than any poem of mine’s will. This is no sad statement, for the soul of the African has always been linked to the beat. My own son’s generation discovered this through hip-hop, but the embracing of an instrumental music skipped the generations after its birth, the new music did not seem to make it to my son’s peers.In Cleveland, there are a few young brothers doing the “new music” without the wayward politics of their forbears, only the soul, heart and muscle of the music lives now. Vernacular, a group of three young musicians – two black men, and a white man – unaware of how crucial their enterprise will be to the coming years. I’ve come to know their journey through a young poet I know, whose head is harder than mine, but savvy is spirit, and his glows. He asked me to write to you, the listener, to give you a map of their place in history; I was not willing at first for I was feeling old, and attacked. Why should I help explain what they could only know as a lonely enterprise?As albums go, this “little bird” is passion music, I enjoyed many of the selections, I did not like their slower works, nor did I enjoy how short it was. It should have been longer, but they left me wanting, so I guess they’ve understood some things are left to the sure voice. I tease my young poet all the time, he does the same – who will be the next mover in out collected history of moving, he asks? I say don’t fret that, it will only make you a target. FBI crackers will tap your phone, and open your mail. The war against the free has come to a head. Choose wisely."Imamu Amiri BarakaFebruary 21, 2004  --- r.a. washington / trumpet, percussionChris Kulcsar / drums, guitarLawrence Daniel Caswell / bass, voice ---Liner notes by Amiri Baraka.Vernacular 2003. All songs by vernacular, except *by Sam Waymon, arrangement by Vernacular.Recorded July 5th & 6th, 2003 at The Black Eye by Jeff Ottenbacher. Mixed at Funsize Studio by Jeff Ottenbacher.Bonus track credit: Live improv by Vernacular & Black Ox Orkestar. Performed at the Grog Shop in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, in the Fall of 2004. Live mix engineered by Gary Heinrich. Black Ox Orkestar is Thierry Amar, Jessica Moss, Gabriel Levine, and Scott Levine Gilmore.Thanks to Ed Sotelo, Jason Schafer, Cynthia Piper, Clinton Holley, and Jeff Ottenbacher.Extra special thanks to Amiri Baraka (rest in power), the members of Black Ox Orkestar, and Lamont Thomas (OBNOX).

Vernacular – The Little Bird

"My favorite albums have always been the ones that take the listener on a journey. I aim to do that, to create worlds with my albums - universes. I wanted The Other Side of Time to unfold like a story and I've continued that process with The Shadows and The Light. I'm influenced by so many different styles of creative music and I like to try and bring all those influences into harmony on these records. There is long-form and short-form composition. You have groove and you have free improvisation, sometimes at the same time. I chose to honor some of the greats - Elvin Jones with Frank Foster, Phil Cohran, Carla Bley & Sun Ra - by covering their material, while my original compositions pay homage to the influences of Charles Mingus (Lucid Dream) and Mr. Blount (Jupiter Moon). I also make room for sound explorations (Shadow Intro & Ecliptics). The title cut is an epic journey all on it's own and a composition I've been working and reworking for many years. I'm happy to have finally brought it to life in it's truest form."- Quin Kirchner --- Recorded at Decade Studios in Chicago September 16 & 17 2019Additional Tracking at Shape Shoppe & Future House in Chicago November 2019 - March 2020Ecliptics recorded at Shirk Studios in Chicago July 18, 2017Engineered by Nick Broste, Brian Sulpizio & Quin KirchnerMixed by Nick Broste at Shape ShoppeMastered by Casey RiceProduced by Quin KirchnerArtwork by Arthur WrightLayout by Nick LaRocheAll compositions by Quin Kirchner (BMI) exceptAt This Point In Time by Frank FosterSahara by Kelan Phil CohranPlanet Earth by Sun RaKing Korn by Carla Bley -- Shadow IntroQuin Kirchner - Drum Set, Congas, Percussion, Roland SH-2000, Korg MonotronBatá ChopQuin Kirchner - Drum Set, Boss SP-303Rob Clearfield - WurlitzerMatt Ulery - Acoustic BassGreg Ward - Alto SaxophoneAt This Point In TimeQuin Kirchner - Drum Set, Congas, PercussionNick Broste - TromboneRob Clearfield - WurlitzerNate Lepine - Tenor SaxophoneNick Mazzarella - Soprano SaxophoneJason Stein - Bass ClarinetMatt Ulery - Electric BassRiftQuin Kirchner - Drum SetNate Lepine - Tenor SaxophoneMatt Ulery - Acoustic BassPathwaysQuin Kirchner - KalimbaNate Lepine - FluteMatt Ulery - Acoustic BassSaharaQuin Kirchner - Drum Set, KalimbaNick Broste - TromboneNate Lepine - Tenor Saxophone, FluteJason Stein - Bass ClarinetMatt Ulery - Acoustic BassStar ClusterNick Broste - TromboneNate Lepine - Tenor SaxophoneNick Mazzarella - Alto SaxophoneJason Stein - Bass ClarinetGreg Ward - Alto SaxophoneMoon VisionQuin Kirchner - Drum SetNick Broste - TromboneRob Clearfield - PianoNate Lepine - Tenor SaxophoneNick Mazzarella - Alto SaxophoneJason Stein - Bass ClarinetMatt Ulery - Acoustic BassGreg Ward - Alto SaxophoneEclipticsQuin Kirchner - Drum Set, Boss SP-303Nick Broste - Electro-Harmonix Memory ManPlanet EarthQuin Kirchner - Drum Set, Congas, PercussionNick Broste - TromboneRob Clearfield - PianoNate Lepine - Tenor SaxophoneNick Mazzarella - Alto SaxophoneJason Stein - Bass ClarinetMatt Ulery - Acoustic BassJupiter MoonQuin Kirchner - Drum Set, Congas, PercussionNick Broste - TromboneRob Clearfield - PianoNate Lepine - Tenor SaxophoneJason Stein - Bass ClarinetMatt Ulery - Acoustic BassHorizonsQuin Kirchner - Drum Set, Congas, Floor Tom, Percussion, HandclapsNick Broste - TromboneNate Lepine - FluteJason Stein - Bass ClarinetKing KornQuin Kirchner - Drum SetNick Broste - TromboneNate Lepine - Tenor SaxophoneJason Stein - Bass ClarinetMatt Ulery - Acoustic BassThe Shadows And The LightQuin Kirchner - Drum Set, PercussionNick Broste - TromboneRob Clearfield - Piano, WurlitzerNate Lepine - Tenor Saxophone, FluteNick Mazzarella - Alto SaxophoneJason Stein - Bass ClarinetMatt Ulery - Acoustic BassLucid DreamQuin Kirchner - Drum Set, PercussionNick Broste - TromboneRob Clearfield - PianoNate Lepine - Tenor SaxophoneNick Mazzarella - Alto SaxophoneJason Stein - Bass ClarinetMatt Ulery - Acoustic Bass

Quin Kirchner – The Shadows And The Light

It can be tempting to describe the interplay of certain musicians as “telepathic.” But that might be an unnecessarily supernatural term. The best musicians don’t read minds, after all. They do something far simpler, something much more down to earth. They listen. They absorb. And then they respond. Music – especially improvised music – is an exchange between the players, a give-and-take. It’s a gradually unfolding conversation that, at its best, reveals a hidden layer. Or maybe a whole hidden universe.The record you now hold in your hands is one of those conversations. On Time No Changes, Chris Schlarb and Chad Taylor invite the listener to eavesdrop on a musical dialogue that blossoms over the course of 40 enveloping minutes. The album was recorded in a single session at BIG EGO in Long Beach, California, where Schlarb has been dreaming up various parallel dimensions for the past decade or so, either with his always evolving Psychic Temple collective or with an ever-expanding cast of characters drawn from various SoCal scenes.Taylor, of course, is best known for his work with Rob Mazurek in the Chicago Underground Duo — though that long-running project is just the very tip of the iceberg when it comes to his ongoing explorations. Taylor and Mazurek recently contributed to Psychic Temple’s sprawling Houses of the Holy double LP, backing Schlarb on a side of gorgeous orchestral jazz. With Schlarb on 6- and 12-string acoustic guitars (plus subtle keyboard accents) and Taylor on drums (plus mbira interludes), the most obvious touchstones for Time No Changes are Sandy Bull and Billy Higgins’ collaborations, which fearlessly crossed currents and blew minds back in the 1960s. With sharp simplicity, Bull called those long improvisations Blends; they blended not only a variety of musical concepts (raga, folk, jazz, etc.), but also two keen musical imaginations. Bull and Higgins were certainly listening to one another, sending and receiving transmissions from moment to moment.A somewhat under-appreciated aspect of those Bull/Higgins Blends is their unabashed looseness. They’re far from perfectly rendered; the thread is sometimes lost entirely. For Schlarb, that was an inspiration in the making of Time No Changes. “Listening back, there were a few moments here and there when I felt a little self-conscious,” he remembers. “Like, ‘Oh man… I fall out of time!’ Or ‘I flubbed that picking pattern!’ Then I went back to listen to Sandy and Billy and remembered how fucked up and beautiful that album was.” In other words, Bull and Higgins weren’t interested in perfection. They were interested in flow.In her recent book Transcendent Waves, sound healing practitioner Lavender Suarez describes the “flow state” as a “trancelike space of deep focus” where “we can create freely, letting go of ego and self-criticism.” That’s the vibe that you’ll get throughout Time No Changes, as Schlarb and Taylor glide through two spontaneously generated 20-minute song suites. Taylor’s sensitive playing is fluid and forward moving, delivering a feel that’s free flying without ever losing momentum. Schlarb, playing in the EEEEBE tuning used by Stephen Stills and Bruce Palmer, floats down this rhythmic river, finding mystical modalities and luminous melodies along the way.Throughout, there’s an easy, warm rapport between the two musicians. They’re not trying to impress one another with flashy technique or unnecessary embellishments. But the results are impressive, nonetheless — even to the players themselves. “The OGs return!” Taylor exclaims at the end of Side A. You’re very likely to agree with his sentiment.- Tyler Wilcox, Longmont, Colorado  --- Chris Schlarb / 6- and 12-string acoustic guitar, Moog synthesizer, Hammond organChad Taylor / drums, mbira --- Produced by Chris Schlarbat BIG EGO, Long Beach, CaliforniaMixed by Chris Schlarb and Devin O’BrienRecorded Saturday, December 14th, 2019Engineered by Devin O’BrienCover Artwork by Jamie ZuverzaPhotographs by Devin O'BrienLayout by David WoodruffMastered by Ronan Chris MurphyAll songs written by Chris Schlarb (Interstellar Music Holdings of the Psychic Temple, ASCAP) and Chad Taylor (CTORB, ASCAP)

Chris Schlarb & Chad Taylor – Time No Changes