Saturday, September 05, 2009

31st Annual Chicago Jazz Festival

The Chicago Jazz Festival still has two more days to go, but I must talk now about a set I caught this afternoon. They call it The Trio. Cutting edge, experimental free jazz multi-instrumentalists Muhal Richard Abrams, George Lewis and Roscoe Mitchell soundly blew my mind only a few hours ago.

I know I'm showing my age here, but their music sort of reminded me of Animal Collective. I'm sorry, I'm such an ignorant prick when it comes to jazz. Sure I dig Miles, Thelonious Monk and Ornette Coleman, but I'm primarily an indie rock guy. So when I say that a live show even comes close to Animal Collective, it's high praise.

Abrams stuck to the keys. Mitchell squealed, squeaked and squawked on the saxophone. Lewis rocked the trombone and laptop. Oh, yes, you heard that last part correctly. These old jazz men incorporated digital samples into their music. Discomforting crunches, whirling fuzz and tweeting birds occasionally joined the disarray of tinny plinks and breathy horns. It was magnificently unique.

The best part is that I can't find this music anywhere online. Oh, this is surely the joy of jazz music! The improvisational experience these men gave us today was one-time-only. I'll never hear it again.

See why I have to write about this now? I was affected by jazz music, dear readers. Jazz.

Jaclyn and I brought a bottle of wine and a blanket last year for Ornette, it was our first trip to the Jazz Fest. It is absolutely the most enjoyable music fest that Grant Park hosts all year. Nobody is stumbling around drunk. It's just a bunch of music lovers, loving music. It's like heaven.

There are three types of people at the Jazz Fest: really cool old black dudes who wear sharp suits just because they're listening to jazz, elderly white people who probably keep NPR alive with their social security, and if anyone is younger than 60, they're just plain dorks. Unfortunately (and I really do mean unfortunately), I cannot fit within either of the first two demographics. By default, I am a dork.

But when music can be so daring, so interesting and so different, I don't care how dorky I look when I'm bobbing my head to a synthesized, reverb-drenched trombone solo. I mean, Lewis was using devices up there that I had never seen before. They made their instruments sound like computers, and their computers sounded like natural found objects.

I'll probably go back tomorrow. I don't know if I'll have the sort of experience that I had tonight, but maybe I can find an album by The Trio and put a few tracks into my lala player.

Listen to jazz, dear readers. It'll do your mind some good.


I hadn't looked very hard... Bonus for the blog followers I guess! I found some music by The Trio on lala. An eleven minute track called Bound is currently at the top of my player on the right. It's from the album Streaming. It's a quiet one, but it's excellent.

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