Chicago singer-songwriter Neal Francis isn’t particularly religious, but the church has had a deep impact on his music. As a child piano prodigy, Francis learned to play the pipe organ at the Catholic church he attended with his family, an experience that helped fuel his budding love of performance—since then, he’s sat in with local […]
Matthew Shipp has been making music at a relentless pace since the 1980s. On occasion, the Delaware-born, New York-based pianist has copped a David Bowie move and threatened to retire from recording. But now that he’s reached the age of 60, he’s apparently too busy making new records to talk about quitting. So far in […]
Hyunhye Seo, also known as Angela Seo, has been a member of inscrutable experimental-rock band Xiu Xiu since 2009, providing synths, piano, and vocals to flesh out their consistently beguiling, unsettling sound. On her debut solo record, Strands (Room40), Seo conjures discomfort in new ways, trading in Xiu Xiu’s outré pop grotesqueries for two 18-minute […]
Chicago electronic producer Vince Kaichan is an omnivorous listener—or at least that’s the impression I get from the hodgepodge of styles in his own music. For roughly a decade now, he’s tussled with chiptune melodies, jazz-influenced lite-funk grooves, and serrated funk carioca rhythms. Recently, Kaichan has taken a shine to footwork, and his years of […]
Despite a 1952 smash for Chess Records, pianist Willie Mabon was soon overshadowed by labelmates such as Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters.
Saxophonist Hafez Modirzadeh has spent the better part of 30 years forging connections among jazz, Persian artistic concepts, and free music. This has resulted in a clutch of albums that ping-pong between gutsy postbop and meditative duets, the latter of which come into focus on his new album, Facets (Pi). Modirzadeh has frequently worked with […]
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 […]
The music that Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi wrote during the middle of the 20th century predicted minimalism and spectralism, but its forms and sounds remain distinct from those later developments—and from most other European classical music. Born in 1905, he started composing music in the late 1920s and arrived at his mature style after experiencing […]
Dr. Charles Joseph Smith collaborated on his new video with filmmakers from Mississippi Records and Raw Music International.
The only time I’ve seen wild jazz pianist Dave Burrell play live was in an odd setting for him—he joined free-jazz bass titan William Parker for a program called “The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield” at the Chicago Jazz Festival in 2009. The ensemble also included drummer and musical polymath Hamid Drake and writer Amiri […]
Pianist Matthew Shipp has released more than a dozen albums with Brazilian saxophonist Ivo Perelman just in the past two years, and their Jazz Festival set is the first time they’ve played together in Chicago.
Despite its profound and ongoing influence across a wide spectrum of musicians, the work of composer Morton Feldman is rarely performed in Chicago. That dearth can be explained in part by the durational intensity of many of his greatest works—which often clock in at more than an hour, and demand intense concentration and focus from […]
Pianist Erwin Helfer may be Chicago’s last living link to the vital boogie-woogie tradition, which arose more than a century ago.
Carli Blanco shot herself to death at 14, highlighting the growing teen suicide risk.
Current musical obsessions of jazz guitarist Tim Stine, bassist Matt Lux, and Reader music critic Peter Margasak