Posted inMusic

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 […]

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One of the longest-running freely improvising ensembles on earth plays this (and nearly every) Monday in Roscoe Village

For improvisers, familiarity is a double-edged sword; if musicians get too comfortable with each other, inspiration can turn into habit. But there’s nothing quite so thrilling as the near-telepathic rapport of a group whose players know each other’s strengths and try to push each other to greater heights. The members of Extraordinary Popular Delusions have […]

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Chicago free-jazz heavy Mars Williams celebrates his annual marriage of holiday themes and Albert Ayler tunes

After seven years of interpolating holiday favorites and classic material by free-jazz icon Albert Ayler—including the saxophonist’s screaming gospel fervor—in his annual December concert in Chicago, reedist Mars Williams is expanding the concept in 2017. To support Mars Williams Presents: An Ayler Xmas (Soul What), a raucous new release recorded last year at the Hungry […]

Posted inBlogs

Remembering Hall Russell

Some of the greatest experiences with live music came courtesy of the eccentric multiinstrumentalist and bandleader Hal Russell, whose work with his NRG Ensemble brought gonzo wit, fierce improvisation, and boundless energy to performance after performance. During the late 80s and early 90s they were fixtures at great subterranean bar Lower Links, playing madcap sets […]