Early experiences count for a lot. After reedist Aram Shelton moved to Chicago in 1999, fresh out of college, he became an integral part of an interdependent community of jazz musicians who were ready to realize one another’s concepts. Shelton left town in 2005, but he’s continued his practice of embedding himself in a scene, […]
Jean-Luc Guionnet’s relationship to music is complicated, and it shows. As a youth, he drew while his father played saxophone, and he didn’t much like what he heard. When he changed his mind during his teens and started making his own music, his first instruments were keyboards, spliced tape, and drums; he only came around […]
Gene Barge has done his most influential work as a sideman or producer, but he’s just as important as any of R&B’s marquee stars.
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 […]
After saxophonist Archie Shepp became known in the 1960s as a fierce musical and political voice in what was then called the avant-garde, he charted a different path. In 1977, Shepp recorded a collection of traditional spirituals (and one jazz standard) in a duet session with pianist Horace Parlan titled Goin’ Home, which is as […]
German reeds player Peter Brötzmann turned 79 in March, so it would be developmentally appropriate for him to take a look back. But memories are a mixed blessing for a devoted practitioner of improvised music. While they can build up a shared understanding between partners, making it easier for them to come up with something […]
When you want to put together an improvising ensemble whose interactions will be unpredictable as well as satisfying, it helps to recruit someone who has your back and someone else who isn’t afraid to push the music somewhere you didn’t think it would go. For one night in December 2018, Chicago alto, tenor, and baritone […]
Saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and drummer Tom Rainey have been married to each other since 2010 and playing together since 2007, working as a duo as well as within larger ensembles, where they’ve collaborated with avant-garde jazz musicians such as Tim Berne and Mary Halvorson. Though the duo initially focused on improvisational music, a 2016 tour […]
Chicago has a rich tenor sax tradition—Gene Ammons, Johnny Griffin, Von Freeman, Fred Anderson, and so on. With tradition comes prescription; Chicago tenors, to fit the mold, need to be able to summon a broad tone, a bluesy vibe, and a steady stream of improvisational ideas. Local saxophonist Gerrit Hatcher has no trouble living up […]
This autumn marks 30 years since Ken Vandermark moved to Chicago. The reedist plays tenor and baritone saxophones as well as B-flat and bass clarinets, and his staggering output—he’s put out six releases this year alone, one of them a five-disc set—can be divided and analyzed according to any number of metrics, including where he […]
Soprano and tenor saxophonist Urs Leimgruber has covered a lot of ground since he first recorded in 1974. On his earliest recordings, with Swiss jazz-rock group Om (which predates by decades the heavy American band of the same name), he played muscular solos over surging rhythms. Since the 90s he’s used several groups—including Quartet Noir […]
Chris Speed brings a trio to the Jazz Festival that lets the avant-garde reedist tread the ground of the old masters without losing himself.
The Blues Festival pays tribute to 91-year-old saxophonist Gene “Daddy G” Barge with a set with by his longest-running band, the Chicago Rhythm & Blues Kings.
Dave Rempis organizes concerts, mentors young musicians, and connects players from across the States and abroad—modeling the commitment and generosity that keep the jazz scene viable.
Alto saxist Boyce Brown, aka Brother Matthew, won a Down Beat readers’ poll in 1940, but because he recorded so rarely he’s all but forgotten today.