Posted inMusic

The Pride Bands Alliance celebrates 40 years with a symphonic-band blowout and two world premieres

In October 1982, members of seven LGBTQ+ concert and marching bands from across the U.S. met in Chicago and formed the Lesbian and Gay Band Association. Though the LGBA changed its name to the Pride Bands Alliance in 2021, it still provides “an international network of LGBTQ+ and affirming bands in all stages of development” […]

Posted inBest of Chicago

Best use of cicadas on a jazz album

The dense, iridescent drone of an untold number of singing cicadas seeps into Now, the 2021 sophomore full-length by Damon Locks’s Black Monument Ensemble. In August and September 2020, 11 of the collective’s members gathered to record at Edgewater’s Experimental Sound Studio, both inside and out back in the garden behind the building—and the environmental […]

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Chicago joins seven other cities on two continents to host the Catalytic Sound Festival

Avant-garde jazz musicians have been uniting to better control their opportunities to perform, record, and engage with their communities at least since the 1960s, when the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) first convened in Chicago and the shorter-lived Jazz Composers Guild (which included Carla Bley, Sun Ra, Bill Dixon, and Archie Shepp) […]

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Damon Locks & Black Monument Ensemble’s Now is an essential album of the moment

Flipping through television channels. Flicking through radio stations. They’re quotidian actions—until they’re not. When you’ve lived through a year like 2020, every frequency delivers the same nightmare from a different angle. On Now (International Anthem), Chicago sound collagist Damon Locks and his Black Monument Ensemble confidently grasp the tuning dial of history. Like 2019’s Where […]

Posted inMusic

Rob Mazurek’s latest with his Exploding Star Orchestra finds hope in the cosmos

Dimensional Stardust is a splendid sonic antidote for the spirit-damping insults of a year that can’t end soon enough—growth and transcendence are programmed into the album’s DNA. The Exploding Star Orchestra’s leader, multi-instrumentalist Rob Mazurek, started out playing idiomatically correct hard bop in Chicago’s jazz bars in the 1980s. These days he lives in Marfa, […]