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Tonight the New Fracture Quartet, a newish ensemble led by drummer Tim Daisy (pictured), celebrates the release of its debut album 1,000 Lights (on the Polish Multikulti imprint) with a performance at the Hideout. Unfortunately, as Daisy informs me, the album art isn't done--meaning there isn't yet a tangible release to celebrate. But I've heard the recording, and the band's music sounds promising enough that I don't need a special occasion to check them out.
Rounded out by bassist Nate McBride, trumpeter Jaimie Branch, and electric guitarist Dave Miller, the quartet has a blistering, Chicago-centric sound. In particular, Miller's high-decibel attack harks back to the early days of the Vandermark 5 (or even the Vandermark Quartet), when Jeb Bishop (or Dan Scanlan) used electric guitar to bring rock power and swagger to already bulldozing tunes.
Miller is increasingly active on the local scene--he plays in Algernon, Ted Sirota's Rebel Souls, Zing!, and Blink, among other bands--and he's starting to hammer out a more distinct sound. Three or four years ago he was clearly in thrall to Jeff Parker, but now he seems to know how to rein in his impressive flexibility and focus on what he can bring to each group, from carefully structured improvisations to complementary texture and color.
Branch can get raucous or abstract with the best of them, but here she often plays with a more restrained lyric quality--the occasionally delicate melodies she and Miller contribute make it clear that this band isn't simply paying homage to the mid-90s Chicago scene. And though Daisy and McBride, who also play together in the Engines and the Frame Quartet, can roll like a Mack truck, they also know how stop on a dime. Their facility at accelerating and decelerating allows them to shape Daisy's compositions into vigorous, dynamic organisms.
Pamelia Kurstin, Thinking Out Loud (Tzadik)
Prefuse 73, Preparations (Warp)
Be Your Own Pet, Get Awkward (Ecstatic Peace)
Benny Golson, Walkin' (Fresh Sound)
Nick Lowe, Jesus of Cool (Yep Roc)