JAZZ | Peter Margasak
For much of the past decade John Corbett has devoted himself to shining a light on overlooked visual art of the mid- to late 20th century with Corbett vs. Dempsey, the gallery upstairs from Dusty Groove that he runs with Jim Dempsey. This is similar to the treatment that Corbett (an occasional Reader contributor) gave to some of his favorite music via the Unheard Music Series—an imprint of Atavistic through which, for much of the aughts, he released forgotten or previously unissued work by free-jazz greats such as Sun Ra, Peter Brötzmann, and Han Bennink. Though the gallery has released a handful of CDs in conjunction with exhibitions, Corbett is now ramping up the Corbett vs. Dempsey label into a freestanding concern, and on June 6 it will reissue two solo albums by the great Poughkeepsie saxophonist and trumpeter Joe McPhee.
Glasses and Variations on a Blue Line/’Round Midnight, which McPhee recorded for Swiss label Hat Hut in 1977 and released in 1979, have both been out of print for decades. Last year Corbett negotiated with label owner Werner X. Uehlinger to reissue titles from the Hat Hut catalog, the McPhee albums among them, and it catalyzed his desire to give Corbett vs. Dempsey the label a mission in sync with Corbett vs. Dempsey the gallery: “A strong devotion to things we think are fantastic but for one reason or another have fallen under the radar,” he says. The Unheard Music Series hasn’t released anything since late 2008, and as Corbett explains, “These are projects that I want to be closer to home.”
Most titles will be strictly limited to 1,000 copies—once they’re gone, they’re gone. “The industry has changed and we’re not relying on the usual distribution services,” Corbett says. “We’re doing it all ourselves.” More McPhee rereleases from the Hat Hut vaults are on the horizon, and this fall Corbett vs. Dempsey will reissue the ultrarare 1964 Sun Ra recording Continuation, originally on Ra’s Saturn label, accompanied by a second disc of unreleased material from the same time. McPhee will celebrate his first two reissues with a free solo concert at the gallery on Wed 6/6 at 7 PM.
METAL | Miles Raymer
Common sense would dictate that if you were going to spend several years making a documentary about a band, especially without outside funding, you’d pick as popular a subject as possible so that you might eventually make a profit from the finished film. In flagrant defiance of that notion, local filmmaker Justin Baron has been working off and on for almost a decade on a documentary about local metal group Yakuza, whose integration of jazzlike elements—front man Bruce Lamont plays a variety of saxophones—has made them a tough sell for mainstream metal audiences. The archetypal “band’s band,” they seem to have made fans out of half the metal musicians in the world, but without earning widespread popularity.
“I just feel called to do this,” Baron explains, “and whatever that means for me, I have to incur the cost of that life decision to make this happen, you know?” He’s currently putting the finishing touches on the doc, entitled Be That as It May: Yakuza’s Seismic Consequence; it combines footage of the group in the studio recording 2010’s Of Seismic Consequence (Profound Lore), live clips, and interviews with high-profile Yakuza fans, among them Greg Kot, Jim DeRogatis, modern-jazz heavyweight Ken Vandermark, and members of Mastodon, Celtic Frost, Neurosis, Municipal Waste, and more. A couple weeks ago Baron launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10,500, hoping to pay for the editing, postproduction, manufacturing, and distribution of the film. The campaign runs till Sat 6/23, and incentives range from a thank-you e-mail from Baron (for a $5 donation) to one of Lamont’s saxes (for $3,500). Baron says all the work he’s put into the movie so far has been worth it, just for the experiences he’s had in the burgeoning Chicago metal scene. “There’s something going on right now, and Yakuza is definitely a big part of that,” he says. “I just sort of felt like Charles Peterson from the 90s Sub Pop grunge era.”
ROCK | Kevin Warwick
Culled from live recordings spanning nearly two years, the compilation Shimby Presents: Live at the Empty Bottle dropped last month, and the Bottle is throwing it an official release party in conjunction with Mark Sultan’s visit on Thu 5/24 (see Soundboard). The 14-track collection features local and national touring acts that skew heavily toward garage rock, including Davila 666, the Black Lips, Outer Minds, Ty Segall, Mickey, Best Coast, and the Fresh & Onlys. The LP and CD are on sale at the venue for $10 each, and you can buy the record for $15.99 through HoZac’s online store.
The “Shimby” who engineered the record is otherwise known as Anthony McCreery, an architectural acoustician by day who moonlights as a member of Bird Talk and as a recording engineer at his in-home studio in Pilsen. McCreery’s Bandcamp site, emptybottle.bandcamp.com, hosts the impressive-sounding Live at the Empty Bottle in full (downloadable for five bucks) as well as more than 40 of his live recordings—among them sets from Thee Oh Sees, Cave, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, and the Reigning Sound. McCreery characterizes his collaboration with the Bottle as a personal project. “I have a multichannel recording rig permanently set up in their equipment racks, and I basically can record any time I go to see a show,” he explains in an e-mail from Madagascar, where he’s visiting a friend. “I chose some of my favorite songs from shows I had gathered up to about eight months ago. I’ve spent the time in between securing consent, refining mixing, mastering, and getting the record pressed.”