Fred Lonberg-Holm: Cellist, Entrepreneur | Bleader

Fred Lonberg-Holm: Cellist, Entrepreneur



Fred Lonberg-Holm
  • Fred Lonberg-Holm

Chicago cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm is a busy guy, playing in countless ensembles (Frame Quartet, Vandermark 5, the Horse’s Ha, Fast Citizens, and his own Valentine Trio, among many others) and apparently pretty open to improvising with any player with a good idea or two in his head. He’s anything but a careerist—but he’s found his own low-key ways to make more of his music available over the years.

Several years ago he launched Flying Aspidistra, a homemade CD-R label, to share items from his archive, including recordings with guitarist David Stackenas and violinist Charlotte Hug. He just released his eighth album on the imprint, Cabin, Cemetery, Forest, which, like all of the CDs, features a hand-stamped woodblock print; this one also features stitching around two edges. The music was made this past August in Chemung County, New York, and it finds the cellist in solo mode, unleashing some of his most tactile, rubbery, and viscous improvisations. The recording picks up the physicality and presence of his playing in a way you don’t always hear, even in live performance.

Four older titles are currently listed on the Atavistic Records Web site, all are apparently still available, and the cellist usually has some to hawk at gigs.

But Lonberg-Holm has also jumped on the digital bandwagon, partnering with TV Pow’s Michael Hartman to release downloads on his Kuro Neko site. The first two downloads are concert recordings of the cellist’s long-running Lightbox Orchestra, his entertaining setup for conducted improvisations, where a box of switch-operated Christmas tree lights and an ever-expanding library of written and drawn cues are used to guide a crew of musicians.

Tonight (Wednesday, October 28) at the Hideout Lonberg-Holm celebrates these various endeavors with a solo set followed by a Lightbox Orchestra set. The Lightbox ensemble is especially good tonight, with cornetist Josh Berman, dry-ice maestro Michael Colligan, reedists Caroline Davis, Keefe Jackson, and Mars Williams, electronicist Paul Giallorenzo, 20-string bassist Brent Gutzeit, percussionist John Herndon, bassist Liz Payne, and Aaron Zarzutski on some kind of sound generating device yet to be determined.

Photo: Peter Gannushkin

Today’s playlist:

Puerto Plata, Casita de Campo (IASO)
Jan Johansson, Jazz På Svenska (Heptagon)
Edu Krieger, Correnteza (Biscoito Fino)
Deerhunter, Microcastle/Weird Era Continued (Kranky)
Various Artists, Zanzibara 5—Hot in Dar, 1978-1983/The Sound of Tanzania (Buda)