JAZZ | Peter Margasak
In 1966 Delmark Records released Sound, the first album by brilliant Chicago reedist Roscoe Mitchell. Chuck Nessa, then the manager of Jazz Record Mart, had convinced Bob Koester, founder of Delmark and the shop’s longtime owner, to let him produce some albums by members of the nascent Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Mitchell’s was the first, and in 1967 Delmark released debuts by reedist Joseph Jarman (who would soon form the Art Ensemble of Chicago with Mitchell) and pianist Muhal Richard Abrams. The AACM would eventually be recognized for its seismic impact on the development of jazz and improvised music, and this has conferred a special status upon Sound in retrospect. But it turns out not to be the first AACM recording.
When Nessa first approached Mitchell, the reedist told him about a session he’d cut in 1965 with his working quartet: bassist Malachi Favors, drummer Alvin Fielder, and trumpeter Fred Berry. Nessa says, “I didn’t want to use the existing tape because I thought something current would be better, and I was anxious to have my first experience producing.” He can’t remember if he actually heard the recording at the time.
Last month, thanks to Nessa’s label, the music finally saw release after 46 years. Before There Was Sound isn’t as groundbreaking as what followed—Sound captures Mitchell as a fully formed artist, exploding traditional jazz structures—but the band was already blazing its own trail. Mitchell and crew experiment with contrast and context (placing garrulous, fast-paced passages next to restrained, austere ones), song forms, and shifting combinations of improvisers (various solos, duos, and trios among the composed themes).
The album’s eight tracks include five Mitchell compositions (there are two takes of “Carefree”) and one tune apiece by Favors and Berry. Most were recorded in summer 1965 at WUBC, the old University of Chicago radio station. Nessa has been talking with Mitchell about releasing this material since the 70s, and even after he negotiated a deal it was a struggle to locate period photos. Mitchell, Favors, and Fielder went on to make Sound with trumpeter Lester Bowie, saxophonist Kalaparush Maurice McIntyre, and trombonist and cellist Lester Lashley. According to Terry Martin’s liner notes, Berry left Chicago in 1966 to pursue a doctorate at Stanford—he remains at the school, directing its jazz orchestra.
MUSIC & THE ARTS | Leor Galil
Early next year Chicago will get a new free arts-and-culture quarterly called The Land Line, and on Sat 11/19 its organizers are hosting a benefit concert at a DIY space to help cover the first issue’s printing costs. According to Land Line prose editor Robin Hustle, every act on the bill has at least one member who’s contributing to the journal or otherwise helping out: noise experimentalists Ono, epic scuzz rockers Mayor Daley, drone duo Wume, oddball postpunks Bomb Banks, and DJs Jean Shorts and Marijuana Weed.
The idea for The Land Line came together in late September, when Hustle and comics editor Grant Reynolds—both of whom had worked on The Skeleton News, a free monthly paper that ended its run three years ago—began talking with some of their old Skeleton colleagues about starting a new project. “One lesson we learned from The Skeleton was that having a stricter editorial vision in place makes for a better and more sustainable paper,” Hustle says.
Vision or no, The Land Line seems like a bit of a free-for-all. Its call for submissions mentions research-based essays, cultural criticism, nonlinear comics, and poetry, among other things; the contents of the first issue will include sex advice from a sex worker and an essay about 19th-century Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu and sleep paralysis.
The submission deadline is Fri 11/25; the debut issue should be out in January. To submit to The Land Line or inquire about the fund-raiser’s location, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
MUSIC & FILM | Kevin Warwick
When chicago filmmaker Paul Rettig contacted long-running local postrock band Haymarket Riot about contributing music to Bronze and Bombs, his in-progress 30-minute documentary on the tumultuous history of the Haymarket police memorial statue, it was a straight no-brainer.
“One can’t tell the story of the statue without telling the story of the Haymarket Riot of 1886,” Rettig says. “I’ve long been a fan of the band, and I thought it would be great to include their music for some of the radical aspects of the story.”
Rettig hopes to assemble a soundtrack of Haymarket Riot’s music for a reenactment of the 1969 bombing of the statue by radical leftists the Weathermen. He also says former Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers has expressed interest in being interviewed for the doc.
The band got right on board—how could they not? Rettig wanted them to play an acoustic set at the fund-raiser he held Tue 11/15 at the Haymarket Pub & Brewery (737 W. Randolph), but Haymarket Riot had already booked a show Fri 11/18 at Pancho’s (2200 N. California). So they decided to turn it into a benefit too.
“We all felt this was a vital project and threw out the idea of donating whatever we sell at the 11/18 show,” says vocalist-guitarist Kevin J. Frank.
All proceeds from Haymarket Riot’s sales of LPs, CDs, shirts, beer koozies, and silk-screened posters will add to the nearly $1,000 that Rettig’s film has already raised through its Kickstarter (the goal is a cool two grand).
“I have identified several images in both the Tribune archives and the Chicago History Museum collection that will be necessary to tell the story,” Rettig says. “The funds will help pay for the reproduction and broadcast rights.”