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The 10th anniversary festivities for the Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet continue this week with performances by a number of killer spin-off projects. On Wednesday at the Hideout the superb reeds trio called Sonore (pictured) reconvenes. Brötzmann, Ken Vandermark, and Mats Gustafsson formed this configuration about four years ago and recorded an excellent album called No One Ever Works Alone (Okka Disk, 2004) that challenged the status quo of the all-saxophone group, keeping things fully improvised but generating pieces marked by the kind of compositional logic that arises when musicians share sensibilities and thoroughly understand one another’s art. Both on the record and at a stunning live gig back in 2004 at the Empty Bottle, the trio ran a sort of musical relay race, using spontaneous riffs as launch pads that the other players either embraced or rejected. But rather than the hot-potato back-and-forth, these guys focus on sustained development and intense interaction.
Two nights later at the same venue Brötzmann closes out the celebration by playing in two powerful groupings that have both recently been documented on knockout albums. The Fat Is Gone (Smalltown Superjazz) was recorded live last summer at Norway’s Molde Jazz Festival, and the music delivers the kind of raw, explosive energy you’d expect from Brötzmann, Gustafsson, and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, although there are some exceedingly pretty, restrained passages amid the din. Again, the rapport of the musicians is evident in spades—a sort of telepathic intuition you don't normally expect behind sounds this urgent and visceral.
Finally, Guts (also on Okka Disk) captures a terrific 2005 gig by Brötzmann, multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee, bassist Kent Kessler, and drummer Michael Zerang at the Bottle. The longtime cohorts of the rhythm section were seriously locked in during the performance, laying down deep, bluesy, highly elastic grooves or scraping out refracted harmonies streaked with grainy textures, providing excellent foundations for the aggressive yet often lyrically tender horn play on top.
Misja Fitzgerald Michel, Encounter (No Format)
Gene Watson, In a Perfect World (Shanachie)
Microscopic Septet, Surrealistic Swing and Seven Men in Neckties (both Cuneiform)
Sylvia Telles, Amor de Gente Moça (Odeon, Brazil)
Helen Sung, Sungbird (Sunnyside)