Andrew Trim Credit: Annie Reese

The longer jazz exists, the more it broadens and splinters into new directions—a situation that in recent decades has not only made it harder to define but also to determine its high-water marks. That’s one of the reasons I admire the wide net cast by Chris Anderson, who runs the Jazz Art Record Collective, a live-music series that enlists local musicians to interpret some of their favorite albums front to back. Anderson doesn’t place strict parameters on their choices, and I was thrilled to see that one of my all-time favorite albums—and certainly one of the best jazz recordings of the last 30 years—is getting the treatment from former Chicago guitarist Andrew Trim. Ask the Ages (Axiom) is the 1991 masterpiece by guitarist Sonny Sharrock, a jazz guitarist who fearlessly enfolded some of the most ferocious noise and abrasiveness ever waxed into his best work. The record capped a triumphant comeback for a musician who’d been overlooked in his youth. Joined by titans including saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, drummer Elvin Jones—both crucial sidemen of John Coltrane—and bassist Charnett Moffett, he forged a mix of devastatingly beautiful melodies and lacerating, soul-searching improvisations that balanced lyric tenderness with uncharted leaps into the abyss. The rest of the band followed his example, turning in performances at the peak of their abilities. I have to salute Trim’s chutzpah in taking on a set of music so inextricably linked to the personality of its high-octane roster.  In order to accurately replicate the arrangements, which often feature overdubbed lines, he’s enlisted a second guitarist, Matt Gold of Sun Speak, to join him. Fortuitously, Gold had also been thinking about interpreting the record for the JRAC series when Trim approached him. The rest of the very capable band includes saxophonist Nate Lepine, bassist Matt Ulery, and drummer Quin Kirchner.   v

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