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Calle 13 cofounder MC Residente explores his bloodlines with diverse styles on his stirring solo debut

Three years ago wildly imaginative producer and MC Residente (aka René Pérez) disbanded Calle 13, the shape-shifting hip-hop and reggaeton project he started with his stepbrother Eduardo José Cabra Martínez (aka Visitante) in 2004 in their native Puerto Rico. That project catapulted the duo to global fame, and it gave Residente the resources to pursue […]

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Arlington Heights native and saxophonist Brian Krock leads a Chicago-based lineup of his big band Big Heart Machine

It’s no secret that in today’s world running a big band is a daunting prospect. It’s difficult enough to wrangle 18 musicians together to perform, let alone rehearse complex, harrowing scores, not to mention finding venues with stages large enough to fit the entire ensemble. But saxophonist and composer Brian Krock, a 29-year-old Arlington Heights […]

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Odetta Hartman holds her bricolage of folk, electronic beats, and field recordings together with whimsy

In our posteverything world it’s hard to envision the current model of a New York-style artistic vagabond—a creative who had a bohemian childhood and found ways to connect the detritus of the past with a forward-looking present. Singer Odetta Hartman offers one such version on her recently released second album, Old Rockhounds Never Die (Northern […]

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The Art Institute presents a dazzling 12-performance showcase of music by John Zorn throughout its galleries

In recent years the sprawling variety and prolificacy of works by musician, composer, and community force John Zorn have been showcased in appropriately ambitious, multiconcert marathon events presented all around the world with enormous casts of musicians. Last month I experienced one of the largest such efforts when Jazz em Agosto, in Lisbon, Portugal, turned over […]

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Horse Lords saxophonist Andrew Bernstein delivers a different strain of intensity on his visceral new solo album

Saxophonist Andrew Bernstein is a major contributor to the churning intensity of noisy Baltimore art-rock band Horse Lords, and while the music on his forthcoming second solo album, An Exploded View of Time (Hausu Mountain), isn’t nearly as loud or propulsive, its concentrated sound and cycling patterns are hardly chill. With the exception of the […]

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Chicago experimentalists Mako Sica find a sweet spot with master percussionist Hamid Drake

Since I first encountered it nearly a decade ago, I’ve repeatedly tried to engage with the music of Chicago trio Mako Sica. The determinedly exploratory ensemble couches improvisational impulses within meditative, expansive prog-rock modes more concerned with using chants, texture-rich guitar, and spacious rhythms to carve out space than with displaying hollow virtuosity. Unfortunately, their […]

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Round Robin offers improvised duets from Chicago jazz, rock, experimental, and hip-hop musicians

In 2010 Adam Schatz, a New York musician who’s been one of the driving forces behind his city’s sprawling Winter Jazzfest, launched Round Robin, a program focused on free improvisation where musicians with disparate approaches and backgrounds improvise in a steady stream of five-minute duos. The evening begins with a solo performance by one of […]

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Sophisticated Norwegian pianist Håvard Wiik debuts a new project with a group of Chicago improvisers

Pianist Håvard Wiik, a Norwegian native who lives in Berlin, is best known for his key role in the Scandinavian free-bop quintet Atomic, for which he writes much of the material. In that context he’s exhibited a strong interest in 20th-century classical music (you can’t miss his love for Morton Feldman), but his roots are […]