JAZZ | George Freeman reflects on seven decades in jazz
A couple weeks ago the National Endowment for the Arts named tenor saxophonist Von Freeman, 87, one of its five Jazz Masters for 2012, the program’s final year. He’s probably the most storied jazz artist living and working in Chicago, though till recently he’s had company—Fred Anderson and Eddie Johnson both died in 2010.
Freeman’s brother Eldridge “Bruz” Freeman, a superb drummer who spent most of his career in LA, passed away in 2006. But his other jazz-playing brother, guitarist George Freeman, remains active on the Chicago scene at 84. He played in local pickup bands behind legends like Charlie Parker and Lester Young in the late 40s, then spent years on the road working with greats like Richard “Groove” Holmes, Gene Ammons, and Shirley Scott; since the 70s, though, he’s given up touring and more or less settled down. He’s appeared on dozens of albums and released seven as a leader.
On Mon 7/11 at 6:30 PM Freeman will discuss his career at the Roosevelt branch of the Chicago Public Library (1101 W. Taylor, 312-746-5656), covering his early bebop days, his 70s rebirth as an important soul-jazz figure, and more. The Freemans have always been vivid storytellers with withering senses of humor, but joining Freeman to keep the conversation hopping will be Rick Wojcik, proprietor of Dusty Groove Records (which is copresenting the event). Time permitting, a short Q&A session will follow. The free talk is part of a summer series of CPL music-related events.
METAL | Jon “Metalion” Kristiansen brings his huge new book to Chicago
Jon “Metalion” Kristiansen, 44, presided over 20 issues of the canonical extreme-metal zine Slayer between 1985 and 2010, the last of which took him seven years to finish. The new Metalion: The Slayer Mag Diaries (Bazillion Points), a six-pound, 744-page monster of a book, includes material from every issue—most notably historic interviews with bands like Emperor, Death, Celtic Frost, Bathory, and Gorgoroth—plus lots of new stuff, like the story of Kristiansen’s life in metal and a gallery of his photos.
His editor on the project, Tara G. Warrior (one guess what her favorite band is), has been a Chicagoan since summer 2009. She started reading Slayer in 1991, despite the difficulty of finding copies in the States, and in 2001 she and Kristiansen became pen pals—she’d sent him a bunch of unsolicited e-mails, and he finally replied because she asked if he liked the Allman Brothers. They’re now friends and collaborators (both contributed to Peter Beste’s 2008 photo book True Norwegian Black Metal), and to prepare for Metalion, Warrior spent weeks intensively interviewing Kristiansen in his hometown of Sarpsborg, Norway, intending to weave his biography around the reprinted zine content—the idea was to create not only a chronicle of death and black metal at their births but also a personal coming-of-age story.
Kristiansen’s close friend Oystein Aarseth, aka Mayhem guitarist Euronymous, was murdered by bandmate Varg Vikernes in 1993—one of the most notorious acts of violence in a wave of criminality that earned the Scandinavian black-metal scene its sordid reputation. Michael Moynihan and Didrik Soderlind’s 1998 book Lords of Chaos, for which Kristiansen was a major source, has helped perpetuate this sensationalist view—and Metalion aims in part to replace it with a picture that acknowledges the vulnerability, depth, humor, and humanity of the people behind the music, Kristiansen among them. “There are too many people, Jon included, who’ve kind of become cartoon characters over the years,” Warrior says. “It’s hurtful for him, even now.”
Kristiansen will attend three Chicago events this weekend—his only U.S. appearances aside from a few in New York last month. Warrior is single-handedly responsible for bringing him here. “Jon was kind of hesitant to read in public,” she says.
Fri 7/8 at 7 PM at Quimby’s (1854 W. North), Warrior will read from Metalion, after which both she and Kristiansen will take questions and sign copies. On Sat 7/9 from 1-3 PM at Reckless Records (3126 N. Broadway) they’ll DJ and sign books as part of an informal meet-and-greet. They’ll also be signing copies and mingling at a release party at the Beat Kitchen (2100 W. Belmont) that night—it’s not a reading but rather a full-bore metal show, starting at 8:30 PM and featuring Nunslaughter, Bones, Acid Witch, and Absconder. The two earlier events are free and all-ages, but the concert is $15 and 21+. —Philip Montoro
PUNK | Cloud Mouth start their long good-bye with a round robin
Chicago postpunks Cloud Mouth will break up in November, but they’re having a long good-bye—beginning with a round-robin show with three other bands at a DIY space on July 13.
The guys in Cloud Mouth got the idea after playing with Baltimore trio Double Dagger in 2008 and then touring through Charm City in summer 2009. “We heard about the round robins that Dan Deacon had been throwing, and I always thought it was a cool idea,” says singer-guitarist Matt Harmon. Each band sets up in a different corner of a space, and they all take turns playing one song at a time, with no pauses in between.
At the show they’re calling Circle of Death, Cloud Mouth will go four rounds with Michigan screamo trio the Reptilian, noisy Florida shoegazers the Caution Children, and spastic Pennsylvania posthardcore act We Were Skeletons. (Locals Itto and Brooklyn’s Ghastly City Sleep play before and after the round robin.)
Cloud Mouth also have a few tours and a four-song EP to come, and Harmon hopes this show will set the right tone for their last hurrah. “If nothing else it will be a big fucking disaster and even more fun to watch,” he says. For the where and when, e-mail email@example.com.