"Five Years" of Jazz at Heaven Gallery | Bleader

"Five Years" of Jazz at Heaven Gallery



Jason Ajemian
  • Jason Ajemian
Though the three weekly series that make up the core of Umbrella Music's bookings—Wednesdays at the Hideout, Thursdays at Elastic, and Sundays at the Hungry Brain—tend to get most of the attention when the discussion turns to Chicago's north-side free-jazz and improvised-music scenes, they're hardly the only games in town. The Protest Jazz series at Heaven Gallery has become another important outlet for local (and occasionally visiting) musicians, and this Friday and Saturday it celebrates its fifth anniversary, after a fashion. As drummer Marc Riordan, Protest Jazz's current cocurator, notes, "The only thing we can say for sure is that it's not actually the fifth anniversary of the series."

Bassist and former Chicagoan Jason Ajemian began presenting jazz and improvised music at Heaven in 2002, but concerts were sporadic until 2006, when trumpeter Jaimie Branch got involved and the series became weekly. These days Riordan and bass clarinetist Jeff Kimmel book Protest Jazz.

Friday night's show features two large groups: Keefe Jackson's Project Project and Ajemian's Who Cares How Long You Sink, a long-running ensemble with a fluid and often gigantic lineup—the current incarnation has 14 players, including three pianists (!). Saturday night's bill consists of a solo performance by reedist David Boykin and sets by Sherpa (Branch, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, and guitarist Toby Summerfield) and the Green Pasture Happiness (a mostly electronic quartet anchored by drummer Frank Rosaly). A $15 donation is requested each evening.

Update: A bunch of the musicians involved with this weekend's Heaven shows will also be at the Hideout tonight, in two ad hoc trios—one with reedists Kimmel and Peter Hanson and guitarist Owen Stewart-Robinson, the other with trumpeter Jacob Wick, Riordan (on piano), and Rosaly. Hanson, Stewart-Robinson, and Wick are in town from New York, and while they're here they're also playing with Ajemian's band High Life tomorrow at the Empty Bottle, Sunday at the Hungry Brain, and Monday at Skylark.

I'll be spinning clarinet music of all stripes tonight at the Hideout before, between, and after the live sets.

Today's playlist:

Stephan Crump, Rosetta (Papillon)
Djelimady Tounkara, Solon Kono (Marabi)
Kletka Red, Hybrid (Red Note/Explain:)
Stefano Bollani, Jazz Italiano Live 2006 (L'Espresso)
Aus (Johannes Bauer, Clayton Thomas, and Tony Buck), Live in Nickelsdorf (Jazzwerkstatt)