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Moor Mother’s Jazz Codes needs little decoding

Camae Ayewa, aka Moor Mother, has always been one to cite her sources. In addition to performing as a member of Philly-based free-jazz collective Irreversible Entanglements, the contralto wordsmith has frequently paid homage to the jazz, blues, and gospel canons in her solo work, beginning with her 2016 debut, Fetish Bones, and continuing through last […]

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Vijay Iyer builds a superpowered septet in tribute to Eve Ewing’s Ghosts in the Schoolyard

The creative and intellectual spheres of Eve Ewing and Vijay Iyer are so expansive they’re pretty much impossible to abbreviate. So the news that Iyer is in town for the pandemic-deferred premiere of his musical suite inspired by Ewing’s writing, Ghosts Everywhere I Go, should inspire eager anticipation and knowing nods. Ewing and Iyer are […]

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By deconstructing the flute, Laura Cocks’s Field Anatomies builds new worlds

When you’re ensconced in a circle of 29 piccolos, no one can hear you scream. New York-based flutist and TAK Ensemble cofounder Laura Cocks re-creates this otherworldly sonic scenario in David Bird’s “Atolls,” the first piece off their new debut solo album, Field Anatomies (Carrier). Bird says his piece derived the auxiliary performers’ pitches by […]

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Chicago’s Black musical visionaries charted paths for their communities in the 1950s and ’60s

Since the 1950s, Chicago has hosted a succession of visionary Black musical groups and societies. They’re best known as purveyors of avant-garde jazz, but that characterization sells short Sun Ra and his Arkestra, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), and Phil Cohran’s Artistic Heritage Ensemble. Each was—and in some cases still is—a […]

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AACM repertory ensemble Artifacts establish their own sound

Flutist Nicole Mitchell, cellist Tomeka Reid, and drummer Mike Reed initially formed Artifacts as a repertory group; the music on their 2015 debut album, Artifacts (482 Music), includes compositions by founding or early members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, among them Anthony Braxton, Muhal Richard Abrams, Amina Claudine Myers, and Roscoe […]

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Ensemble dal Niente and Ken Vandermark explore the ties between chamber music and jazz

Ensemble dal Niente commissions and selects new music that earns the designation “new” not just because it’s freshly composed; it also challenges both players and audiences to experience performance in new ways. This program, jointly presented by Ear Taxi and the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, draws on the resources of Chicago in two ways. First, […]

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Nicole Mitchell and Lisa E. Harris explore soulful Afrofuturist visions on EarthSeed

A friend in Houston recently described multidisciplinary artist and space goddess Lisa E. Harris as a “force of nature” in the Texas scene and beyond. Upon investigation, I had to concur. Harris channels the Afrofuturism of Sun Ra, the transcendent devotionals of Alice Coltrane, and the deep-listening experiments of Pauline Oliveros—all while maintaining her own […]

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Founded as an AACM repertory ensemble, the Artifacts Trio now plays original compositions

The Artifacts Trio first convened in 2015 in response to the 50th anniversary of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Flutist, vocalist, and electronicist Nicole Mitchell, cellist Tomeka Reid, and drummer Mike Reed have all held leadership roles in the organization; they also have a history more than a decade long of playing […]