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The Reader’s Guide to the 28th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival

This edition of the Chicago Jazz Festival delivers the usual tributes to a handful of jazz greats, living and dead–underappreciated local pianist Willie Pickens in the former category, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Oscar Brown Jr., and recently deceased trumpeter Malachi Thompson in the latter. And this year’s artist in residence is genius alto saxophonist Lee […]

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The Reader’s Guide to the 27th Annual Jazz Festival

As usual the Chicago Jazz Festival is recognizing a few big-name anniversaries–40 years of the AACM, 70 of Down Beat magazine, and what would’ve been Charlie Parker’s 85th birthday–and celebrating a handful of jazz greats both living and dead. (This year it’s Roy Haynes and Eddie Johnson in the former category and Tony Williams, Charlie […]

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Archer Prewitt

Great pop may incorporate a host of influences, but at its best it buries them so deep they’re little more than haunting. Archer Prewitt’s third full-length, Three (Thrill Jockey), sets the Wayback Machine for the early 70s–there’s a little Steely Dan in the guitar on “When I’m With You,” as well as shades of the […]

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Michael Hurley

Back in 2000, Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power) released versions of two Michael Hurley songs on her Covers Album, but even today few people know enough about the man to realize just how hip her selections were. Hurley’s a genuine 1960s outsider and cult hero, one of the only fabulous grizzled freaks with a flag […]

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Pullman’s 1998 debut, Turnstyles & Junkpiles, was a set of chipper acoustic string pieces recorded live, sans overdubs–breezy instrumentals awash in fingerpicking, pastoral landscapes, and pass-the-guitar folksiness. But the band’s core quartet includes Ken (formerly Bundy K.) Brown and Doug McCombs, both restless intergenre explorers, so it’d be foolish to expect Pullman to paint from […]

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Bobby Conn

Bobby Conn is a Kim Fowley for our time. Fowley is little more than a footnote in rock history–his career as a producer and manager certainly hasn’t made him a household name–but in the late 60s he put out a series of solo records that provided a vivid premonition of the adventurous, sex-positive, drug-friendly, persona-swapping […]

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Luc Ferrari

To say that Luc Ferrari is a major electroacoustic composer isn’t saying nearly enough. True, Ferrari was one of the key figures associated with the studios of the Groupe de Recherches Musicales, the central French outpost of post-musique concrete electroacoustic music, founded by Pierre Schaeffer in the late 50s. And like his countrymen Pierre Henry, […]

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Dylan Van Der Schyff

When he first appeared on the radar screen, in Vancouver about a decade ago, there was no telling which direction Dylan van der Schyff would go. An immensely gifted young drummer born in South Africa, he could swing hard and apply a light touch with equal dexterity, and if he’d chosen to he could have […]

Posted inMusic

All Natural, Molemen

I’m an advocate of recycling, but when it comes to hip-hop beats the blue-bag routine gets old fast–I’m particularly tired of hearing loops cribbed from the Jameses (namely James Brown and Rick James). Chicago’s new wave of hip-hop crews is exciting in part because its best exponents don’t retread the same worn samples but dig […]

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Phill Niblock

PHILL NIBLOCK When New York composer and sound artist Phill Niblock presents one of his drone-based tape pieces, he plays it back loud–gut-thumping, heart-stopping, tooth-rattling, flood-the-room-to-the-rafters loud. Such serious volume is required not just to fill the performance space but to tease out the ringing harmonics that are Niblock’s stock-in-trade. He’ll layer several tracks of […]