In November 2020, Chicago multi-instrumentalist Ben LaMar Gay debuted his long-form composition Certain Reveries at a London Jazz Festival livestream show. The performance was no mere park-and-play: wearing a black hooded shawl that recalled the grim reaper, Gay played electronics, synths, and of course his cornet, and in collaboration with brilliant percussionist Tommaso Moretti, he […]
John McCowen has made a career of transforming the contrabass clarinet into an instrument all his own. Born in Carbondale and now based in Reykjavik, Iceland, the composer got involved with music as a hardcore vocalist in the mid-2000s, then spent several years playing saxophone and flute with stoner outfit Tweak Bird before turning his […]
“You know, even assholes need some love.” So said Jaimie Branch in a 2019 interview with Aquarium Drunkard. She was explaining “Love Song,” one of the tunes on her 2019 album Fly or Die II: Bird Dogs of Paradise. And without necessarily trying, Branch was also cluing folks in to the kind of connection that […]
Charles Stepney: Out of the ShadowsRotary Connection 222, a large ensemble led by bassist Junius Paul, will perform music from the catalog of Charles Stepney under the creative direction of the Stepney family and Chicago record label International Anthem. Damon Locks & Black Monument Ensemble open. Thu 8/18, 6:30 PM, Pritzker Pavilion, 201 E. Randolph, […]
Chicago-based percussionist Daniel Villarreal says his debut solo album, Panamá 77, is a soundtrack of his life and an introduction to who he is. “It’s about my upbringing and my experiences as a musician and artist in the city of Panamá and also in the city of Chicago,” he explains. “It’s a blend of all […]
Many ways to celebrate and honor Juneteenth this week, as well as other outdoor and indoor gatherings and events—check it out!
In an essay accompanying Open Arms to Open Us (International Anthem), composer-cornetist Ben LaMar Gay says his latest album is part of the extended death terror many have felt since the start of the pandemic. “What can I leave behind for the young people in my life?” he asks. Open Arms to Open Us sounds […]
It’s not easy to forget the prejudice confronted by Chicago’s Latine bands and artists who were trying to build relationships with venues and recording studios in the late 90s and early 2000s. I experienced some of it personally as manager for one of those bands. From 2001 till around 2014, I worked with [.DESCARGA.], and […]
If the world can agree on one thing, it’s that 2020 was not our best year on record. For former Chicagoan Jaimie Branch, it should’ve been a time of triumph for her current quartet, Fly or Die. The group were riding the wave of a splendid sophomore LP, where Branch added vocals with tragically topical […]
For nearly 70 years, Bob Koester owned the Jazz Record Mart and Delmark Records—and though his businesses could be “crazy town,” they helped nurture thriving communities.
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 […]
“A music community is a group of individuals that create music because they love doing it, and I think that’s the most important thing for me.”
For the past few months, bassist Dezron Douglas and harpist Brandee Younger have dealt with the necessity of social distancing with their own kind of intimate gigs: a series of quietly uplifting performances streamed live through a shared microphone from their Manhattan apartment. Force Majeure collects a dozen of these songs along with brief, perceptive […]
For decades, Danny’s nurtured a devoted and welcoming community of music lovers—but it couldn’t survive the pandemic.