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German indie veterans the Notwist draw from Chicago’s jazz community for the new Vertigo Days

Long-running German group the Notwist perfected their airy combination of lovelorn indie rock and tender electronic sounds nearly two decades ago, but once they got it just right, they apparently decided never to repeat themselves. They preceded the new Vertigo Days (Morr Music) with an instrumental album steeped in the wallpaper aesthetics of library music […]

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Aki Takase, Christian Weber, and Michael Griener advance the language of piano jazz with a collective approach

Berlin-based pianist Aki Takase has been performing for more than 40 years, and in that time she’s engaged with contemporary composition, spoken word, and even a turntablist—the trio Lok 03 includes her husband, fellow pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach, and their son, DJ Illvibe. But no matter where she roams, her playing is fundamentally rooted in […]

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David Grubbs, Rob Mazurek, and Mats Gustafsson take a musical road trip as the Underflow

The Underflow take their name from the Greek record store where guitarist David Grubbs, cornetist Rob Mazurek, and saxophonist Mats Gustafsson played their first trio gig in May 2019. But the connections joining the three musicians were forged in the 1990s, when Grubbs and Mazurek were associated with Chicago’s postrock scene and the Sweden-born Gustafsson […]

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Harry James of Chandeliers draws from soul, jazz, and ambient on his solo debut

New Jersey native Harry James Brenner found his footing in Chicago’s music scene partly by playing in art-rock group Chandeliers; he joined in the mid-aughts as a percussionist, and he’s since played keys for them too. The sharply defined clatter of Brenner’s drums has kept Chandeliers’ mercurial instincts from running away with them, giving even […]

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Crazy Doberman take us on unwieldy free-improvised journeys with Two Tales of Lost Witness Marks

Crazy Doberman are an Indiana free-improvisation and jazz collective created in 2016 as an offshoot of the group Doberman, started three years before. Core members, including Tim Gick and Doberman cofounder Drew Davis, appear on many recordings, but Crazy Doberman’s lineup is loose—it varies on each of the band’s 40-plus albums and has featured dozens […]

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The Best of the Miyumi Project celebrates 20 years of Tatsu Aoki’s culture-combining ensemble

Tatsu Aoki left his native Tokyo in 1977 to study experimental film and settled in Chicago two years later. In addition to making films, he improvises, composes, and conducts music, playing bass, shamisen, and taiko drums, and by the early 1990s he’d connected with the local jazz scene, developing a particular affinity with past and […]

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Chicago squares off against New York City on the fourth volume of Mars Williams’s Ayler Xmas project

Among the myriad injuries inflicted upon Americans by COVID-19 (though admittedly one of the mildest) is the impossibility of attending your favorite holiday concert. For the past dozen years, Chicago-based saxophonist Mars Williams has hosted a unique variation on that seasonal tradition. Each December he convenes Witches & Devils, his combo devoted to the music […]