In Performance: Audio One


It’s a broad comparison, but taking in everything that transpired during last night’s Outside the Spotlight performance by Audio One at Embrace Church was kind of akin to watching a soccer game. There was so much going between the ensemble’s 10 members – namely, vigorous soloing, exchanges and union lines between different factions within the group along with the agility to shift between composed sections, their cues and free improvising. All of it was continually in motion, too. While everything led to a satisfying conclusion in each of the six lengthy tunes Audio One performed during the two hour program, the real thrill was experiencing the bounty of ideas that formulated, the ultimate risks taken as each tune progressed and how such musical fearlessness showcased the abilities of the band’s remarkable arsenal of players.

Count vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz among the craftiest of the bunch. On the show opening Tape, one of four new pieces by saxophonist/clarinetist/group leader Ken Vandermark that made their performance debut last night, Adasiewicz applied a level of physicality to his playing that produced huge and often harsh sounds. You almost thought he was hitting his keys order diflucan tablets with hammers instead of mallets. Later, at the beginning of the evening’s second set, he contributed to an otherworldly chamber-like sound with violist Jen Paulson and bassist Nick Macri. All three artists, including Adasiewicz, played with a bow during the exchange.

Then there was the lyrical might triggered during the Julius Hemphill medley of The Hard Blues and Skin 1 that allowed drummer Tim Daisy to accelerate the pace and groove with help from a wildly scorched alto sax break from Nick Mazzarella. That, in turn, set up the very human (as in gargling) sound of Jeb Bishop’s muted trombone which foreshadowed a brief, freely improvised group implosion.

But the kicker was the show-closing cover of the Art Ensemble of Chicago’s Theme De Yoyo, a tune anchored by a killer bass line that Vandermark and all of Audio One’s six member front line of brass and reed players appropriated and blew up into a monstrous groove. But the tune was also deliciously schizophrenic, shifting back and forth from earthy funk to complete melodic anarchy with eerie, exact and fun precision.

-Walter Tunis

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