Wednesday night was a double bill concert at the Hideout with the duo with me and Paal (our new album, “Seven,” out now on smalltown superjazz), and a quintet featuring Jeb, Magnus, Fredrik, Kent Kessler, and Kjell (on drums). The duo music was pushed to a level past deconstruction and my head was shot, so putting the performance into any kind of perspective was impossible for me. Paal was really happy with the set so that made me feel decent about our results. The quintet music was incredible, blending some compositions (Monk, Ornette) with open improvisation in an almost Dutch way, but without any theater. Great to hear Kjell on drums again.
Thursday Atomic performed the “official” opening concert of Dave Rempis’ improvised music series at the new Elastic space. The room is a very good one for music, and the fact that it has a workable baby grand piano makes the venue pretty unique for the improvised music scene in Chicago. The group played a number of compositions from their superior new album, “Happy New Ears,” plus some older originals that should be classics by now, if there was any justice in the world.
On the 21st and 22nd, Atomic School Days performed at the Green Mill, which was recorded for Okka Disk. Friday’s gig felt like stress central: Fredrik’s clarinet broke two minutes after setting up so I had to call home to get Ellen to bring mine; Bob Weston (who recorded both nights) nearly knocked my bass clarinet to the floor while resetting mics (thankfully he caught it before it went very far); the documentation of the first set was lost because the tube mic pre-amp overheated some of the other recording equipment; and we had started rehearsing at 10am in the morning, when we played the pieces completely through for the FIRST TIME. Nothing like trying to perform well in front of a packed house, completely exhausted and on edge. Somehow we got to some good music, but when we walked off stage after the third set it felt like we were all aware of how much needed to get done for the next night’s gig.
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