Matt Ulery's Loom Member Picks Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Fri., July 12, 9 p.m. and Sat., July 13, 8 p.m. 2013

Bassist Matt Ulery has become known in the Chicago jazz community not only as a strong bandleader but also (and increasingly) as a distinctive composer with ideas that reach beyond jazz. Last year he signed with Dave Douglas’s Greenleaf Music to release the impressive two-CD set By a Little Light, which merges classical minimalism, eastern European Romani music (Ulery is a member of Eastern Blok), film scores, jazz, and indie rock. He enlisted help from members of Eighth Blackbird as well as trumpeter James Davis and violinist Zach Brock, who come from his own circle. Ulery recorded his terrific new album, Wake an Echo, with his long-running quintet Loom, and his attraction to composed music is changing the complexion of this hard-driving postbop combo. Pianist Rob Clearfield and drummer Jon Deitemyer are joined by a new front line, reedist Geof Bradfield and trumpeter Marquis Hill, who temper their fiery improvisational chops with a measured cool that complements the cinematic, thoroughly composed elements in Ulery’s music. Some cuts, such as elegant opener “Lady Vanishes,” have little soloing—though Clearfield is the exception there, and in fact often sets the tone throughout the record. Elsewhere Hill and Bradfield take exceptional solos that flow with the songs, but they’re just as impressive playing off one another in the composed sections, pushing and pulling against the pastoral chamber-music feel of the writing. Despite the nonjazz stylistic elements and Ulery’s unmistakable presence as a composer, jazz clearly provides the music’s sinuous backbone. Ulery is already making music unlike anyone else in Chicago—I can’t help but be curious about where he’ll go next. —Peter Margasak

Price: $12

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