CHICAGO pt. 2
From Lisbon it was back to Chicago. Caught a nice concert on the 21st with Jim Baker, Jeb Bishop, Kent Kessler, and Michael Zerang at the Hideout, where I played cuts by the Ex and ICP Orchestra. Then on the 27th and 28th it was time for yet another mixing session with Bob Weston, this one for the Territory Band. We had recorded a new long form piece entitled, “Collide,” that featured Fred Anderson in a concert at Millennium Park last August, and it was time to pull the details together so an album can be released by Okka Disk this summer. Going back over the recording was a real pleasure. Hearing how well Fred navigated the material with his improvising, and how great the group sounds every time it plays, makes all the intense work necessary to bring such a large ensemble together well worth the insane effort. After finishing the mix on Wednesday I went to the Hideout to hear Mike Reed’s, Proliferation Quartet (with Greg Ward and Tim Haldeman on saxes, Jason Roebke on bass), and to play late Duke Ellington and early Sun Ra sides. It was the first chance I had to hear Mike’s band and it was great. They played excellent re-arrangements of late 1950s material written by Chicago based Jazz composers, and Greg and Tim played the lines together incredibly well, almost a Lee Konitz/Warne Marsh type simpatico.
EUROPE pt. 2
Before getting too comfortable at home, I went back to Europe to do a couple of performances with Rob Mazurek’s Exploding Star Orchestra. Because of a number of scheduling issues, it was impossible to get the full group together until the sound check at the Banlieues Blues Festival outside of Paris. Thankfully, Mike Reed was able to organize some small group rehearsals in Chicago to go over the material. Because I had not played any of the tunes since August of 2005 this was a great help. Against any odds I would have laid, the band actually pulled off the gig on April 4th in France; of course it helped to have such good musicians in the ensemble (Josh Berman, Jeb Bishop, Rob Mazurek, Corey Wilkes [brass]; Matt Bauder, Nicole Mitchell, myself [reeds]; Jim Baker [piano]; John Herndon, Mike Reed [drums]; Jason Ajemian [bass]; Jeff Parker [guitar]; and Jason Adasiewicz [vibes]. The toughest thing was that the horns were at the back of the stage set up in a straight line, which made it impossible for me to hear the brass at the opposite side of the band- so much for executing unison phrases. John Herndon said that we sometimes sounded like a pile of dominoes falling over.
The group, aside from Jeff Parker who had to fly back home, headed to Hasselt, Belgium for a second gig. This took place at the Kustencentrum Belgie on the 7th. The band had extra time to rehearse while in Hasselt and this really improved the performance at that concert. Also, Rob changed the set up of the band, putting the horns between the two drummers at the front of the stage, which made hearing each other a hell of a lot easier. The place was packed and enthusiastic, a nice way to end a week overseas. And getting a chance to spend some time with musicians that I don’t work with very often, to get to know them better artistically and socially was a real pleasure. And the Leffe Braun was pretty good too.
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