The October Revolution, a weeklong series of concerts held in 1964 at New York’s Cellar Cafe, united the city’s second wave of free-jazz musicians. Sun Ra, Bill Dixon, and Albert Ayler sounded as different from one another as each did from anything else going around, but they all had deep roots in the very same traditional jazz that they sought to surpass or transform. Inspired by the Revolution’s success, Ra and Dixon helped found the short-lived Jazz Composers Guild; predating the AACM by several months, it was the first attempt by avant-garde jazz musicians to organize and advocate for themselves. Now flash forward to the present: clarinetist and saxophonist Wolfgang Fuchs, a Berliner in his 50s, and two twentysomething Americans, percussionist Jerome Bryerton and bassist Damon Smith, release Three October Meetings, clearly intending to invoke the Revolution. Their music, which moves mercurially from thoughtful textural explorations to tangles of squiggly microevents, doesn’t sound much like the expressionist testifying of their 60s forebears, but the album betrays those musicians’ influence in other ways. First of all, Fuchs, Bryerton, and Smith share a similarly firm grasp of the traditions they’re building on (in this case, the full historical range of postfreedom jazz and European improvised musics), demonstrated especially in the busy conversations they orchestrate among contrasting timbres–the pure shriek of a bowed cymbal; the coarse, woody resonance of a bass; the electronic-sounding popping and rumbling of a contrabass clarinet. The trio has also taken the Guild’s ideas about artistic self-determination to heart: Balance Point Acoustics, the label that issued Three October Meetings, is wholly owned and operated by Smith. This is the final concert (and only midwestern date) of the trio’s first tour; please note the early start time. Wednesday, May 22, 8 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Caroline Forbes.