JEB BISHOP, BONES
http://www.okkadisk.com/artists/bishop.html

Young Chicago improv-scene trombonist has recently played with the Vandermark 5, In Zenith, his own trio, and Theater Oobleck, and released the 12-song 98 Duets, where he pairs up with bassist Josh Abrams, percussionist Hamid Drake, reedman Ken Vandermark, saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. The JEB BISHOP Trio, which shares its rhythm section with the Vandermark 5, also has released a CD.

OKKA Discography

X.  Territory Band-2
Atlas (OD12050)
Features: Ken Vandermark / Jim Baker / Jeb Bishop / Axel Dörner / Kevin Drumm / Per-Ake Holmlander / Kent Kessler / Fredrik Ljungkvist / Fred Lonberg-Holm / Paul Lytton / Tim Mulvenna / Dave Rempis

IX.  Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet + 2
Short Visit to Nowhere (OD12044)
Features: Peter Brötzmann / Joe McPhee / Jeb Bishop / Ken Vandermark / Mats Gustafsson / Mars Williams / Fred Lonberg-Holm / Kent Kessler / Michael Zerang / Hamid Drake / Roy Campbell / William Parker

VIII.  Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet + 2
Broken English (OD12043)
Features: Peter Brötzmann / Joe McPhee / Jeb Bishop / Ken Vandermark / Mats Gustafsson / Mars Williams / Fred Lonberg-Holm / Kent Kessler / Michael Zerang / Hamid Drake / Roy Campbell / William Parker

VII.  School Days
In Our Times (OD12041)
Features: Ken Vandermark / Jeb Bishop / Kjell Nordeson / Ingebrigt Hĺker-Flaten / Paal Nilssen-Love

VI. Jeb Bishop Trio/Quartet
Afternoons (OD12039)
Features: Jeb Bishop / Kent Kessler / Tim Mulvenna / Jeff Parker

V.  School Days
Crossing Division (OD12037)
Features: Ken Vandermark / Jeb Bishop / Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten / Paal Nilssen-Love

IV.  Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet
Stone/Water (OD12032)
Features: Jeb Bishop / Peter Brötzmann / Hamid Drake / Mats Gustafsson / Kent Kessler / Kondo / Fred Lonberg-Holm / Parker / Ken Vandermark / Michael Zerang

III.  Jeb Bishop Trio
Jeb Bishop Trio
(OD12029)
Features: Jeb Bishop / Kent Kessler / Tim Mulvenna

II.  Joe McPhee / Jeb Bishop
The Brass City (OD12025)

I.  Peter Brötzmann
The Chicago Octet/Tentet
(OD12022)
Features: Peter Brötzmann / Jeb Bishop / Hamid Drake / Mats Gustafsson / Kent Kessler / Fred Lonberg-Holm / Joe McPhee / Ken Vandermark / Mars Williams / Michael Zerang

Interviews and Articles

 

Press Photos

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

X.  Territory Band-2
Atlas (OD12050)
Features: Ken Vandermark / Jim Baker / JEB BISHOP / Axel Dörner / Kevin Drumm / Per-Ake Holmlander / Kent Kessler / Fredrik Ljungkvist / Fred Lonberg-Holm / Paul Lytton / Tim Mulvenna / Dave Rempis

http://www.okkadisk.com/releases/od12050.html

Territory Band-2 / Atlas (OD12050)
MUSICIANS
Ken Vandermark -- reeds
Jim Baker -- piano
JEB BISHOP -- trombone
Axel Dörner -- trumpets
Kevin Drumm -- electronics
Per-Ake Holmlander -- tuba
Kent Kessler -- bass
Fredrik Ljungkvist -- reeds
Fred Lonberg-Holm -- cello
Paul Lytton -- drums
Tim Mulvenna -- percussion
Dave Rempis – saxophones

http://www.okkadisk.com/releases/od12050cov.html
COVER AND ARTWORK

 
Photos:
Angeline Evans
Design: Louise Molnar

SONGS
1. Add and Subtract [for Jean-Michel Basquiat] (13:01)
2. Neiger [for Michael Snow] (16:32)
3. Catalog [for Fred Lonberg-Holm] (12:13)
4. Now [for Samuel Beckett] (18:21)
Total Time: 60:11
All compositions by Ken Vandermark (ASCAP)

RECORDING INFO
Produced by:
Ken Vandermark
Executive producer: Bruno Johnson
Recorded: at Airwave Recording Studios, Chicago on February 15 & 16, 2001
Engineered by: John McCortney
Mixed by: John McCortney and Ken Vandermark with extensive assistance from Kevin Drumm and Fred Lonberg-Holm
Thanks to the MacArthur Foundation.

LINER NOTES
The music should speak for itself. If so, what's the reason for these liner notes?

When the first Territory Band album, Transatlantic Bridge, was released in February of 2001 there seemed to be some confusion over the piece "R-M", which included two long silences. Several copies of the album were actually returned to Okka Disk because their owners thought there had been a mistake in the mastering (though why they thought an error like that would have escaped the label is hard to understand). More disturbing, however, was the number of music critics who asked me if the use of those silences was intentional. The fact that they felt the need to even ask this question suggests that they think I don't fully consider my materials or the way that they function. This is insulting, to say the least. The lengths of those silences were primarily determined, and definitely pushed, by Paul Lytton. Compositionally, it was my attempt to get the listener to "hear" their environment for some moments, a kind of homage to Marcel Duchamp's ready-mades and the way they get me to see something everyday as something new.

I believe, if the intentions and presentations are true, the music will speak for itself. However, the problem is that today the journalists and critics who cover improvised music are too often ignorant about their subject. In the long run the music will have the final say, but for the time being improvised music is frequently described and analyzed by writers who, frankly, don't understand what they're talking about. For many years I avoided using liner notes because I got tired of seeing them used as primary material for a review -- the critic's job was to assess the music themselves, not transcribe what someone else had written about it. I had hoped that by only using basic details about dates, titles and personnel I would force them to form their own conclusions. Unfortunately, when they did, there were too many cases where those conclusions misrepresented the music through misinformation and/or ignorance, whether their opinions were positive or negative. These notes are an attempt to prevent this from happening for Atlas. My apologies to those writers who do their job well. For those of you who don't, you should start considering how many musicians you've pissed off because of the lack of responsibility you feel towards your subject -- we're getting fed up.

The first version of the Territory Band was based on the idea of pairs: two brass (JEB BISHOP and Axel Dörner), two reeds (Dave Rempis and myself), two strings (Kent Kessler and Fred Lonberg-Holm), and two rum sets (Paul Lytton and Tim Mulvenna). Jim Baker was included on piano because of his brilliance and originality. The second version of the group added to the original lineup through expanding the brass and reed sections (Per-Ake Holmlander and Fredrik Ljungkvist respectively) and adding electronics (Kevin Drumm). This version of the band convened in Chicago during February of 2001, about a year after the first project took place, to work on new material for performance and studio documentation.

The extended range of sounds that were now available (especially the addition of Kevin Drumm's use of electronics) and my growing interest in, for lack of a better term, "unresolved abstraction" (the best example being the form on "Neiger"), seemed to initially confuse some members of the band, not least of which myself. The process with the materials that seemed so clear on the first set of music (contained on Transatlantic Bridge) was, at first, much more ambiguous on the second project. I give my extreme thanks to the ensemble for their ongoing patience with my conflicting directions as the pieces were shaped. The four compositions on Atlas: "Add and Subtract", "Neiger", "Catalog", and "Now", need to be understood as frameworks for large group improvisation. The eleven other musicians are, I believe, as good as players get in this department and the final form the written material took was in very large part developed by their spontaneous reinterpretations of what the scores indicated. I think that it's unnecessary to describe the musical events on these recordings; it should be possible to hear them. Many musicians "solo" on each piece, but "Neiger" was meant to feature the work of Kevin Drumm, "Catalog" was written with Fred Lonberg-Holm in mind, and "Now" was meant to feature Jim Baker and Paul Lytton.

In closing I'd like to say a few words about the people who helped inspire the compositions. "Add and Subtract" is dedicated to the painter Jean-Michel Basquiat. His pieces are magnificent, and I have a particular fondness for the "jazz paintings" which capture the kinetic energy of be-bop and its lexicon. "Neiger" is for Michael Snow -- filmmaker, visual artist, and musician. Aside from the artistry he has brought to the avant-garde for decades, he has added to it a much needed sense of humor and grace. As stated before, "Catalog" was written for Fred Lonberg-Holm, in part because he kept bugging me to do it, but mostly because of the opportunity it provided to compose something that specifically featured one of my favorite musicians. The last piece, "Now", is for Samuel Beckett. I hope that someday I'll be able to express my ideas with the level of clarity and strength found in his writing. As with many of the pieces I've written for various artists and friends over the years, these compositions aren't meant to replicate or reinterpret someone else's work or personality, they're a way of saying thanks for making this world a better place. Right now, in these bitter times, their gifts are needed more than ever.

-- Ken Vandermark, June 2002

 

 

 

IX.  Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet + 2
Short Visit to Nowhere (OD12044)
Features: Peter Brötzmann / Joe McPhee / JEB BISHOP / Ken Vandermark / Mats Gustafsson / Mars Williams / Fred Lonberg-Holm / Kent Kessler / Michael Zerang / Hamid Drake / Roy Campbell / William Parker

http://www.okkadisk.com/releases/od12044.html
Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet + 2 / Short Visit to Nowhere (OD12044)

MUSICIANS
Peter Brötzmann -- tenor sax, tarogato, clarinet
Joe McPhee -- trumpet, valve trombone
JEB BISHOP -- trombone
Ken Vandermark -- tenor sax, clarinet
Mats Gustafsson -- tenor sax, baritone sax
Mars Williams -- alto sax, tenor sax
Fred Lonberg-Holm -- cello, violin
Kent Kessler -- bass
Michael Zerang -- drums
Hamid Drake -- drums, frame drum, voice
plus
Roy Campbell -- trumpet, flugelhorn
William Parker -- bass, log drum

COVER AND ART WORK
http://www.okkadisk.com/releases/od12044cov.html


Cover: Peter Brötzmann
Additional design and production: Louise Molnar


SONGS
1. Hold That Thought (Williams/BMI) (17:29)
2. Ellington (Gustafsson/STIM/NCB) (13:09)
3. Short Visit to Nowhere (Brötzmann/GEMA) (25:05)
4. Lightbox (Lonberg-Holm/BMI) (15:19)
Total Time: 71:02

RECORDING INFO
Produced by: Ken Vandermark and Peter Brötzmann
Executive producer: Bruno Johnson
Recorded: at Airwave Studios, Chicago, 3rd and 4th of July 2000, by John McCortney
Mastered by: John McCortney, December 2001

LINER NOTES
none available
REVIEWS
none available

 

 

VIII.  Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet + 2
Broken English (OD12043)
Features: Peter Brötzmann / Joe McPhee / JEB BISHOP / Ken Vandermark / Mats Gustafsson / Mars Williams / Fred Lonberg-Holm / Kent Kessler / Michael Zerang / Hamid Drake / Roy Campbell / William Parker

http://www.okkadisk.com/releases/od12043.html
Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet + 2 / Broken English (OD12043)

MUSICIANS
Peter Brötzmann -- tenor sax, tarogato, clarinet
Joe McPhee -- trumpet, valve trombone
JEB BISHOP -- trombone
Ken Vandermark -- tenor sax, clarinet
Mats Gustafsson -- tenor sax, baritone sax
Mars Williams -- alto sax, tenor sax
Fred Lonberg-Holm -- cello, violin
Kent Kessler -- bass
Michael Zerang -- drums
Hamid Drake -- drums, frame drum, voice
plus
Roy Campbell -- trumpet, flugelhorn
William Parker -- bass, log drum

COVER AND ART WORK
http://www.okkadisk.com/releases/od12043cov.html


Cover: Peter Brötzmann
Additional design and production: Louise Molnar

SONGS
1. Stonewater (Brötzmann/GEMA) (42:48)
2. Broken English (Vandermark/ASCAP) [for Franz Kline] (20:09)
Total Time: 62:

RECORDING INFO
Produced by: Ken Vandermark and Peter Brötzmann
Executive producer: Bruno Johnson
Recorded: at Airwave Studios, Chicago, 3rd and 4th of July 2000, by John McCortney
Mastered by: John McCortney, December 2001

LINER NOTES
none available
REVIEWS
none available

 

 

 

VII.  School Days
In Our Times (OD12041)
Features: Ken Vandermark / JEB BISHOP / Kjell Nordeson / Ingebrigt Hĺker-Flaten / Paal Nilssen-Love

http://www.okkadisk.com/releases/od12041.html

School Days / In Our Times (OD12041)

MUSICIANS
Ken Vandermark -- reeds
JEB BISHOP -- trombone
Kjell Nordeson -- vibraphone
Ingebrigt Hĺker-Flaten -- bass
Paal Nilssen-Love -- drums

COVER AND ART WORK
http://www.okkadisk.com/releases/od12041cov.html


In Our Times
Cover photo: Joel Wanek
Graphic design: Louise E. Molnar

SONGS
1. Another Double (Vandermark/ASCAP) [for Hĺvard Wiik] (8:26)
2. Off the Top (Vandermark/ASCAP) [for Larry Young] (9:39)
3. What About (Vandermark/ASCAP) [for Bobby Hutcherson] (9:17)
4. Shift (Vandermark/ASCAP) [for Miles Davis] (11:54)
5. Octopus (Bishop/BMI) (8:00)
6. Loose Blues (Bill Evans/Folkways/BMI) (8:13)
7. Elephantasy (Don Cherry/Eternal Music/BMI) (7:22)
Total Time: 62:50

RECORDING INFO
Produced by: School Days
Executive producer: Bruno Johnson
Recorded: live in performance at Blĺ in Oslo, Norway on November 24th-26th, 2001
Mixed: on February 10th, 2002 by Thomas Hukkelberg

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Thanks to Martin Revheim and staff at Blĺ.
 
LINER NOTES
none available
REVIEWS
none available

 

 

 

VI.  JEB BISHOP Trio/Quartet
Afternoons (OD12039)
Features: JEB BISHOP / Kent Kessler / Tim Mulvenna / Jeff Parker

http://www.okkadisk.com/releases/od12039.html

Afternoons (OD12039))

MUSICIANS
JEB BISHOP Trio/Quartet:
JEB BISHOP - Trombone
Kent Kessler - Bass
Tim Mulvenna - Drums
Jeff Parker – Guitar


COVER AND ART WORK
http://www.okkadisk.com/releases/od12039cov.html
afternoons

Cover Painting: Albert Oehlen (from Inhaltsangabe)
Graphic Design: Louise Molnar

SONGS
1. Flex Time (10:08)
2. No More and No Less [for Mary Bishop] (8:13)
3. The Get-Go (6:20)
4. Pond (6:40)
5. Mirror Image (8:02)
6. The Umbrella (6:59)
7. Piggly Wiggly (8:02)
All Compositions by JEB BISHOP (BMI)


RECORDING INFO
Recorded at:
Airwave Studios, Chicago
July 24 & 25, 2000
Produced by: JEB BISHOP
Engineered by: John McCortney
Executive Producer: Bruno Johnson
Mixed and Mastered by: John McCortney (with assistance from the musicians)

LINER NOTES
none available
REVIEWS
none available



V.  School Days
Crossing Division (OD12037)
Features: Ken Vandermark / Jeb Bishop / Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten / Paal Nilssen-Love

http://www.okkadisk.com/releases/od12037.html

Crossing Division (OD12037)
 
MUSICIANS
 Ken Vandermark -- Reeds
JEB BISHOP -- Trombone
Ingebrigt Hĺker-Flaten -- Bass
Paal Nilssen-Love – Drums

COVER AND ART WORK
http://www.okkadisk.com/releases/od12037cov.html

Cover Painting: Adrienne Pierlussi "Blue Cactus" (detail)
Photography: Joel Wenek
Graphics Louise Molnar


SONGS
1. Bookworm(Bishop/BMI) (7:51)
2. Counteraction (Vandermark/ASCAP)[For Takeshi Kitano] (7:51)
3. Broad Daylight(Vandermark/ASCAP) [For Mal Waldron] (7:22)
4. Passenger (Vandermark/ASCAP) [FOr Harry Carney] (6:24)
5. Rosmosis (Roswell Rudd/Syndicore[BMI]) (14:12)
6. Get On the Plane (Vandermark/ASCAP) [For Teddy Charles] (8:21)
7. Smoke Rings (Bishop/BMI) (7:24)
8. Keep You HEart Right (Roswell Rudd/Syndicore [BMI] (7:21)

RECORDING INFO
Recorded at:

Airwave Studios
March 9 & 10 2000
produced by: John McCortney
executive producer: Bruno Johnson


LINER NOTES
none available
REVIEWS
none available

IV.  Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet
Stone/Water (OD12032)
Features: JEB BISHOP / Peter Brötzmann / Hamid Drake / Mats Gustafsson / Kent Kessler / Kondo / Fred Lonberg-Holm / Parker / Ken Vandermark / Michael Zerang

http://www.okkadisk.com/releases/od12032.html

MUSICIANS
BRÖTZMANN CHICAGO TENTET:
Peter Brötzmann - tenor sax/clarinet
Ken Vandermark - tenor sax/clarinet/bass clarinet
Mats Gustafsson - tenor sax/fluteophone
JEB BISHOP - trombone
Toshinori Kondo - trumpet/electronics
Fred Lonberg-Holm - cello, violin
William Parker - bass
Kent Kessler - bass
Michael Zerang - drums
Hamid Drake - drums/frame drum

COVER AND ART WORK
http://www.okkadisk.com/releases/od12032cov.html

Design & Art by: Peter Brötzmann
Additional Design & Production by: Louise Molnar

SONGS
©&®2000 Retained by the artists.
  
RECORDING INFO
recorded live at:
16th Festival de Musique de Actuelle Victoriaville in Victoriaville, Quebec, Canada by Radio Canada (5/23/99)

producer of recording: Mario Gauthier
engineer/mix:
Denis LeClerc, Michel Lariviere
mastered by: John McCortney at Air Wave Studios
produced by: Peter Brötzmann, Bruno Johnson & John Corbett
Exec. Producer: Bruno Johnson

LINER NOTES
none available
REVIEWS
none available

III. JEB BISHOP Trio
JEB BISHOP Trio
(OD12029)
Features: JEB BISHOP / Kent Kessler / Tim Mulvenna

http://www.okkadisk.com/releases/od12029.htm


MUSICIANS
JEB BISHOP Trio:
JEB BISHOP - trombone
Kent Kessler - bass
Tim Mulvenna – drums


COVER AND ART WORK

http://www.okkadisk.com/releases/od12029cov.htm

Cover lettering by: Jeb Bishop
More design & typography: Louise Molnar

SONGS
1. Nomads (8:47)
2. Anticipation of an Embrace (8:25)
3. Cryptic Remark (7:27)
4. Pyramid (12:09)
5. Duress Duress (7:46)
6. When I Was (15:53)
7. Big Stubby (9:01)
total time: 69:28
All compositions by JEB BISHOP (BMI) except "Anticipation of an Embrace" by Lisle Ellis (Echoic Base Publishing [SOCAN])

RECORDING INFO
Recorded at Airwave, Chicago, IL, November 29, 1997
Produced by: JEB BISHOP
Executive Producer:
Bruno Johnson
Engineered by: John McCortney

LINER NOTES
In the event that somebody someday writes a history of Chicago's creative music renaissance, that researcher will find JEB BISHOP's sonic fingerprints all over the joint. Since flinging himself into the scene early in 1993, Bishop has secured a crucial place in the music's ecosystem, moving steadily and dedicatedly from ubiquitous supportive sideman to loader and instigator. JEB BISHOP Trio is the 36-year-old's debut at the helm of a band, a declaration of independence and as a bold a statement as anyone could need of the presence of his muse. But even seem from outside the trajectory of the trombonist's blooming career, the record is no less than an opening volley by one of the city's most exciting, fully developed working units.

Bishop hails from Raleigh, North Carolina. His initial residency in Chicago came in the early '80s, as a student at Northwestern University, where he studied classical trombone. After two years, he returned to Raleigh, where he picked up electric bass and started playing punk rock, at the same time dipping his 'bone into jazz. A period studying philosophy in Belgium gave Bishop an opportunity to hear a panoply of European and American musicians; while there, he met Garrett List and visited the trombonist's free improvisation class at the conservatory in Ličge. After returning to North Carolina in '85, he began playing guitar and concentrated his energies on the rockier end of his interests. As a grad student in philosophy (in Belgium, Tucson and Chicago), Bishop's musical activity died down -- "apart from some self-taught classical guitar and a noisy rock band in Tucson" -- and he went cold turkey from trombone from August '89 to January '93. But once he settled in Chicago, Bishop was smitten with the budding new music he encountered in his adopted home, and quickly became a member of the "punk-jazz" ensemble the Flying Luttenbachers, established contact with keystone reed-player Ken Vandermark, and set course for a fresh life in free music.

The impetus for starting his own trio came as a direct result of working with bassist Kent Kessler and drummer Tim Mulvenna in Vandermark's group the Vandermark 5; in that ongoing ensemble, Bishop doubles on trombone and electric guitar. Inspired by Vandermark's music and the dynamite rhythm section, he heard the potential for a somewhat different bag. "I wanted something with more open, with more space," Bishop reports. "With Ken's music, the blowing space is constrained by the overall form, which is usually pretty complicated. I wanted something that would let everyone stretch out, including me. And to have the interest of the music come from seeing how we deal with that space." This challenge is met head-on in this context, with ample room provided for extrapolation and improvisation. Themes offer a modest amount of germinal material; the musicians connect the dots and invent in the open areas.

But Bishop's charts are also one of the most wondrous features of this disc. Terse, direct, tough, memorable jazz tunes -- the swagger of "Duress Duress," tender moments like the ember-and-ashes glow of "Nomads," the sporty gear-shifting of "Cryptic Remark," a few strategically placed swinging sections built for speed, as well as morphing zones that slip out of time like the opening to "When I Was." Modularity and sectional construction hearken to Mingus, infused with an airy, winsome quality and an unmistakable sense of conviction and assurance. All of which spotlights the collective imagination and abilities of this particular threesome. And his is more than a more rhythm section; it's a partnership, everyone pulling his own weight, looking for openings and making the best of opportunities.

"With a trio it's really minimal, but the possibilities are enormous," Bishop suggests. "It's this inexhaustible format. I wanted to see what I could do with that as a writer, dealing with the space but also offering enough variety in the writing to keep it interesting." In fact, although the trombone trio is theoretically as versatile and potent as the classical tenor sax trio, only a few brave trombonists have ventured forth to front the unconventional lineup. "It's an instrument that works well in combination with other horns," Bishop hypothesizes. "Maybe trombone players have focused on that -- it obviously hasn't been thought of as being as much out-front as saxophone, trumpet, etc. But it has such possibilities, especially timbrally, that it's perfect as a front-line instrument."

That was, truth be told, Bishop's hidden agenda in forming the trio: he wanted to push himself as a player, to take the strides he'd made as a sideman, collectivist and ad hoc improviser (the latter clearly audible on his new 98 Duets, meetings with Mats Gustafsson, Josh Abrams, Hamid Drake, Wadada Leo Smith, Fred Lonberg-Holm and Vandermark, out on Wobbly Rail) and put them to a different kind of test. No doubt a player is on the line in a special way putting their name on the marquee, particularly as the sole "melody" instrument. Nowhere to run to, baby, no place to hide. But once again Bishop's confident as hell, surfacing the giddiness, earthen-tone and inherent elation in the very bubble and spurt of slide trombone -- recollection of early 'bone's buoyancy and incipient experimentation of pioneer tailgaters -- and building on the sly, omni-directional sound of today's Chicago.

- John Corbett, Chicago, November 1998

REVIEWS
Although Bishop's unit has been heard for some time as the pulsing heart of Chicago's Vandermark 5, JEB BISHOP Trio marks the trombonist's album debut as a leader. Eschewing avant-garde trickery, Bishop applies his robust tone to the business of no nonsense jazz improvisation. Strong melodies supply the impetus, but the group takes its time, delving and probing, working through the options. Kent Kessler on bass and drummer Tim Mulvenna respond appreciatively to Bishop's striking and authoritative voice, stretching out for an excursion that effectively tests the format's potential, with neither frills nor fuss.

- The Wire, Summer 1999

 

II.  Joe McPhee / JEB BISHOP
The Brass City (OD12025)

http://www.okkadisk.com/releases/od12025.htm
The Brass City
(OD12025)

MUSICIANS
Joe McPhee - pocket cornet, valve trombone, soprano sax
JEB BISHOP – trombone

COVER AND ART WORK
http://www.okkadisk.com/releases/od12025cov.htm

Photo by: Joe McPhee
Jacket design by: Louise Molnar

SONGS
1. The Brass City I (12:17)
2. The Brass City II (3:44)
3. The Brass City III (2:16)
4. The Brass City IV (7:16)
5. The Brass City V (4:44)
6. The Brass City VI (5:47)
7. The Brass City VII (3:47)
8. Outpost (for Tom Guralnick) (4:26)
9. Transmute (6:25)
10. The Rozwell Incident (for Rozwell Rudd) (8:02)

total time: 58:44
All compositions by McPhee/Bishop

RECORDING INFO
Recorded Oct. 23, 1997 at Airwave Studio
Produced by: Joe McPhee & JEB BISHOP
Executive Producer: Bruno Johnson
Recorded by: John McCortney

LINER NOTES
A SONG FOR BEGGARS

This song won't feed the starving,
nor will conferences on hunger,
with a fortune spent on TALKING.
Nor will it house the homeless,
or quench the thirst of millions
who will die for lack of water,
While the Vampires drink THEIR blood.

This song won't stop our fighting
over bullshit and the finite,
nor keep us all from freezing
when the sun burns through the sky.
Nor will it save our asses
from a fate too cruel to mention.
When,
from our greed and madness,
we have sucked the planet dry.

But,
the weak, the Earth inherits;
and the sick and disillusioned,
and the wounded and the shattered,
and the hopeless without vision,
and the lost without direction,
helpless, lonely,
and the sad!
They will kill the clean young soldiers,
douse the spark of bright tomorrows,
end forever dreams of glory,
lay to rest the brutal lies.
They will satiate their hunger on the bodies of the tourists.
They will satisfy their thirsting on the liquor of their lives.
NO MORE LEADERS!
NO MORE IDOLS!
ONLY BEGGARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Joe McPhee, Chicago 1999

REVIEWS
After spending years in the peripheral shadows of creative music, Poughkeepsie's Joe McPhee is making up for lost time by playing and recording as often as he can. For years the fan's main problem was figuring out how to procure his records -- now the decision is which ones to get? If that's all you want to get from this review, you should put this paper down right now and go buy both; each disc sounds better the more I play it. Zebulon and The Brass City merit comparison because of their marked similarities and significant differences. Both are duos, and on both McPhee restricts himself to a limited sector of his immense instrumental arsenal. He only plays alto and tenor saxophones on Zebulon, a decision which spotlights his exceptional capacity to summon complex, emotionally resonant sounds from both horns. "Kind of a Ballad" fuses somber yearning with a wistful hint of ribaldry, as if expressing all the feelings connected to a cherished but distant memory. "Gracie's Amazing" is, well, amazing. McPhee's multiphonics twine around Bishop's bowed drones to reach past your nervous system and into your soul, together imparting visions of infinite sadness and beauty. It invokes the spirit but not the tune of the hoary gospel standard. The Brass City, as the name suggests, is a mostly reed-free burg. On the title suite that take up its first seven tracks McPhee plays only pocket cornet and valve trombone, while JEB BISHOP plays trombone throughout. They open with whispers and tea-kettle whistles, then move on to explore the whole range of brass sonorities, including those obtained by tapping metal with metal or singing through the horn as well as by blowing on or through it. Muted brass usually evokes warmth for me, but The Brass City has a certain measured distance which I attribute to a major circumstantial difference between the two records. The Brass City is the fruit of a fresh pairing, and you can hear the two men seeking to establish a complimentary relationship as they progress through the record. They succeed, but you know they're working at it. On the other hand McPhee and Bishop have frequently recorded and toured together over the past three years, so there's no need to establish attunement on Zebulon -- it's already there. I could write another entire review about the ways Bishop and McPhee manifest their collective sub-and-uberconscious connections, but really, why waste your time reading? Seek and listen, and listen again, and you will be rewarded.
- Bill Meyer, Signal to Noise #12, July/August 1999

 

I.  Peter Brötzmann
The Chicago Octet/Tentet
(OD12022)
Features: Peter Brötzmann / JEB BISHOP / Hamid Drake / Mats Gustafsson / Kent Kessler / Fred Lonberg-Holm / Joe McPhee / Ken Vandermark / Mars Williams / Michael Zerang

http://www.okkadisk.com/releases/od12022.html
The Chicago Octet/Tentet
(OD12022)

MUSICIANS
BRÖTZMANN CHICAGO OCTET:
Peter Brötzmann - sax/clarinet/tarogato
Mars Williams - tenor/alto sax/clarinet
Ken Vandermark - tenor sax/clarinet/bass clarinet
JEB BISHOP - trombone
Fred Lonberg-Holm - cello
Kent Kessler - bass
Michael Zerang - drums/percussion
Hamid Drake - drums/percussion
BRÖTZMANN CHICAGO TENTET:
Peter Brötzmann - tenor sax/clarinet/tarogato
Mars Williams - tenor/alto/soprano sax/clarinet
Ken Vandermark - tenor sax/clarinet/bass clarinet
Mats Gustafsson - baritone sax/fluteophone
Joe McPhee - pocket cornet/valve trombone/soprano sax
JEB BISHOP - trombone
Fred Lonberg-Holm - cello
Kent Kessler - bass
Michael Zerang - drums/percussion
Hamid Drake - drums/percussion

COVER AND ART WORK
http://www.okkadisk.com/releases/od12022cov.htm

 
Design & Art by:
Peter Brötzmann
Photos by: John Corbett
Additional Design & Production by: Louise Molnar

SONGS
Disc 1
Brötzmann Chicago Octet (live): 

1. Burning Spirit (for Kazuka Shiraishi) 29:42 Peter Brötzmann (GEMA)
Brötzmann Chicago Tentet (live):

2. Other Brothers 24:39 Ken Vandermark (exploding music/BMI) 
3. Old Bottles, No Wine 9:46 Mats Gustafsson (STIM) 
4. Aziz 9:46 Michael Zerang (MUNIMULAMUSIC/BMI)
Disc 2
Brötzmann Chicago Tentet (live):

1. Divide By Zero 12:53 JEB BISHOP (Harustex) 
2. Foolish Infinity 26:45 Peter Brötzmann (GEMA)
Brötzmann Chicago Tentet (studio): 
3. Immediate Music 13:49 Fred Lonberg-Holm (Jilmar Music) 
4. Makapoor 12:53 Michael Zerang (MUNIMULAMUSIC/BMI) & Hamid Drake (Smiling Forehead Music/BMI)
Disc 3
Brötzmann Chicago Tentet (studio): 

1. Foolish Infinity 26:12 Peter Brötzmann (GEMA) 
2. Old Bottles, No Wine 9:20 Mats Gustafsson (STIM) 
3. Other Brothers 24:44 Ken Vandermark (exploding music/BMI) 
4. Divide By Zero 10:40 JEB BISHOP (Harustex)
©&®1998 Retained by the artists.

RECORDING INFO
recorded at:
AirWave Studio (9/16/97)
Tentet & The Empty Bottle (1/29/97)
Octet & (9/17/97) Tentet.
engineer/mix: John McCortney
produced by: Peter Brötzmann, Bruno Johnson & John Corbett
Exec. Producer: Bruno Johnson
Geometry is dry, and old. l've seen a line leap in a different way. A line that has leapt kills theories; all we have to do then is look for adventure in the life of lines. A personal work, a work that shuns the absolute. And lives. Escapes. - Tristan Tzara

LINER NOTES
Exactly thirty years ago, in May, 1968, Peter Brötzmann made a watershed octet recording for his own record label -BRO Records- amidthe heat of the student uprising in the left-wing leaning city of Bremen. Machine Gun, which took its name from Don Cherry's succinct description of Brötzmann, was the opening declaration of the Wuppertalian saxophonist's love of bigger bands; in the first decade of European improvised music, his octets, nonets and tentets stormed the stage at festivals like the Holy Hill Jazz Meeting in Heidelberg (1969) and the German Jazz Festival in Frankfurt (1970). Different groups featured an international cast, including many of the key figures of the British, Dutch, German, Belgian and Swiss scenes. Quicker and more concentrated than a creative orchestra (with which Brötzmann had already had plenty of experience, dating back to the earliest Globe Unity date in 1966), with a knockout punch more devastating than any small combo and range greater than a duo or trio, these upper-midsize bands were the perfect vehicle for Brötzmann's forays into the nexus of power and sound. Indeed, the notion of marshaling free music's tensile strength forces into a concise, dynamic action-jazz ensemble is arguably one of his most far-reaching visions. 

That format didn't exactly vanish from the Brötz-oeuvre over the last 20 years on record alone there's the nine-piece Alarm group of 1981, the eleven-piece clarinet project of '84 and the MSrz Combo tentet of '92. But the self-evident truth is that as a band gets bigger it becomes much more expensive to book and logistics become more difficult to coordinate; the threadbare '80s forced Brötzmann most often to hunker down with his other preferred setting of trio-with-drummer or similarly economical groupings. As he began performing in the U.S. more frequently early in that decade, there were virtually no possibilities for larger ensembles once, in 1984, he led a big New York group through his piece -Alarm- with Charles Gayle, Frank Wright, Jemeel Moondoc, and David S. Ware in the sax section, but the vast majority of his American tours including half a dozen or so visits to Chicago have been with compact, fiscally feasible outfits. 

Nobody really knew it at the time, but the idea for the music on these three discs was spawned at the FMP Festival (official title: A Salute to Free Music Production) in 1995, a one-off event that brought ten major European improvisors (plus Shelley Hirsch from New York) to the Windy City for a three day series of concerts. Brötzmann had already made Chicagoan Hamid Drake a long-term partner, but the weekend gave him a bird's eye on other facets of the city's active scene he played with Drake and Michael Zerang in an off-site concert at Lunar Cabaret, saw the NRG Ensemble rip through a set at the now-defunct Bop Shop, and enjoyed a brief, white-hot duet with Mars Williams so promising that it obliged a follow-up. The experience left a very positive impression, plans for future collaboration were quickly exchanged, and a special relationship between Brötzmann and Chicago was deepened. 

Preparing for a Brötz visit in January, '97, I suggested that he come for a little longer than usual and that we put together, rehearse and record something different, maybe a larger group along the lines of his legendary octet. A lineup was almost instantly produced, calls were made, and suddenly a new band was formed. In addition to a new composition by the band's leader, other members were encouraged to contribute material, and initially four of them Zerang, Ken Vandermark, JEB BISHOP, and Fred Lonberg-Holm did so. On January 22nd, Brstzmann played a concert of duet and trio improvisations with Drake and Williams (making good on the earlier promise), and a week later the Brötzmann Chicago Octet performed twice, raising Frank Lloyd Wright's roof on a snowy Superbowl Sunday at Unity Temple in Oak Park and finally bringing it all back home to a near-capacity crowd at the Empty Bottle. 

The results were so overwhelmingly strong as you can hear on -Burning Spirit- that vows were made to do it again. I don't think anyone believed the opportunity would come knocking so quickly, but just a few months later, flush from the kill, Brötzmann organized a visit for September. Given how successful the maiden voyage was, it was decided that the band should hit the studio as well as the stage. Furthermore, two more members were recruited Mats Gustafsson from Sweden, whose ears were set aflame by Machine Gun when he was a teenager in Umeâ, and Joe McPhee from Poughkeepsie, New York, musical citizen of the world. Orchestrally,,the idea was to beef up the brass section (McPhee's one of the very,few trumpet players who could cut it in this context) and add more bottom,to the already terrifying woodwind section. But of course, in this music,it's the personal sound of the musicians that's paramount, and Gustafsson and McPhee each brought something unique and complementary to the group. 

Brötzmann contributed another piece and once again invited the others to compose. I will restrain myself from the urge to gush, since the music is here for you to judge, but what was so exciting and surprising to me was the range that the group could cover. The Tentet touches on a number of the most significant strategies that have been developed for coordinating larger ensemble improvising. Brötzmann's five-foot-long score for -Foolish Infinity- uses the same graphic method for structuring free play that he's been investigating for decades; the narrative, episodic unfolding monolith integrates fragments of a remembered theme from Charles Ives (the circus-like clarinet motif) and a variety of block groupings of players that divide the band into different sized subgroups, providing textural and timbral juxtaposition and allowing for massive power-cluster build-up and breakdowns. 

Vandermark's -Other Brothers- and Bishop's -Divide By Zero- are also sectional, episodic, but utilize more specific directives with thoroughly written-out charts, arranged themes, backdrops and lines, as well as open improvisation and featured soloing. Lonberg-Holm's -Immediate Music- also has scripted thematic material, but is closer in spirit to a New York style game piece; movement through the score (which contains directives concerning instrumental groupings, dynamic level, activity level, etc) is prompted by a large clock, controlled by Lonberg-Holm, who in effect conducts the free play. Gustafsson's -Old Bottles, No Wine- is also a conduction, the band's sounds steered by movements of the composer/conductor-s body, which is divided into an X-Y axis and interpreted in relation to a set of predetermined variables. Perhaps the most startling for Brötz fans will be Zerang's anthemic -Aziz- and Zerang and Drake's -Makapoor- both vamp-based tunes with funky grooves and plenty of blowing space. Brötzmann meets Niyabingi drum choir in free jazz back alley needless to say, in concert these were barnburners. 

A new adventure in the life of lines. Many lines, leaping limpidly, joyously, violently, wildly, leading from different points of origin to a convergent spot in Chicago. A work that shuns the absolute and personally embraces the contingent, the transitional, the impermanent, the imminent-immediate music, an improvised work, in other words. "My dear Picabia" wrote Tzara to his dada colleague, Francis. -To live without pretension, to dance on iron spikes, telegraphically, or to keep quiet on the equinoctial line, to know that at every instant -perpetua mobilia- it is today.
- John Corbett, Chicago, May 1998

REVIEWS
Joshua Klein The Onion, 4-10 March 1999
Peter Brötzmann - The Chicago Octet/Tentet (OkkaDisk)
Improvised music is invariably meant for live consumption, where the give-and-take between musicians is laid bare for all to hear and the ephemeral nature of the playing is intrinsically linked to that one moment that's never to be repeated. In a way, recordings of improvised music negate the one arguably essential tenet of improv -- namely, spontaneous composition: Even the most unusual and challenging music, once recorded, becomes permanent and obviously immutable. Though listening to records heavy on improvisation is rarely as exciting as hearing the music in a live setting, given the right combination of players, recorded improv sessions can be worth hearing multiple times, even if they're only surprising once... Of course, free music isn't always so casual [as the Haino/Cohen/Baron disc, also reviewed]: German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann has been playing free music for decades, yet he only recently discovered an enclave of like-minded musicians in Chicago. His new, massive triple-disc collection of studio recordings and their live counterparts, all recorded during a few days spread throughout 1997, features a real who's-who of modern jazz, all of whom are based in or play regularly around Chicago: Ken Vandermark, Mars Williams, Hamid Drake, Kent Kessler, Michael Zerang, JEB BISHOP, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Joe McPhee, Mats Gustafsson. For anyone interested in the state of free jazz and out composition, The Chicago Octet/Tentet works well as one-stop shopping. Working in groups of both eight and ten players, Brötzmann and his companions make an impressive racket that is often as beautiful as it is boisterous. These recordings certainly illustrate how some of the power of 10 individuals can be lost on disc: There's something to be said for the imposing Brötzmann blowing with all his might mere feet from your face and ears. But even though the sight of these powerhouses squeezed onto one stage, playing their hearts and lungs out, is missed, that doesn't mean that some tracks sound any less impressive than an oncoming locomotive. With a creative rhythm section anchoring and coloring the compositions, these brass- and woodwind-heavy outfits are simply amazing and, in some cases, nearly essential for fans of modern jazz.