Tim Daisy's Relay Recordings | Bleader

Tim Daisy's Relay Recordings



Tim Daisy
  • Tim Daisy
Considering the vitality and depth of Chicago's jazz and improvised-music scene, I wonder why the city has so few labels devoted to documenting the action. I'm not forgetting Delmark, Southport, and BluJazz, but most of them focus on relatively straight-ahead music—often artists outside that subset of the scene (and within it as well) are forced to take matters into their own hands if they want their music heard by an audience broader than the ones that turn up at gigs. Drummer Tim Daisy started a vanity imprint, Relay Recordings, to do just that, but over the past couple of years he's turned it into more than just an outlet for music that might otherwise fall by the wayside.

Earlier this year he released the fourth Relay title, Old Shoulders, a collection of improvised duets with trombonist Jeb Bishop that transcends the ephemeral nature of the pairing. Between the duo's zeroed-in rapport and the rich melodic content of Bishop's idea-packed lines, the album invites repeated listening—each player jostles and prods the other in one moment and interlocks the next. A bunch of tunes swing briskly and borrow from the high-flying vocabulary of postbop, but on "Foster Mural" both men dig into extended techniques—Bishop unleashes fat-toned blurts and farts and watery sneers and whinnies, while Daisy turns his kit into a tone generator, clanging and skittering as he alternates between resonant friction and cacophonous clatter. Below you can listen to the album's title track.

On Tuesday evening at Elastic, Daisy will celebrate the latest Relay release with a performance by his trio Vox Arcana, which comes on the heels of a weeklong swing through the southeast. This group, which includes cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and clarinetist James Falzone (both of whom also operate their own labels), exists largely as a vehicle for Daisy's more involved compositions; on the new Soft Focus his touch feels lighter, though the music is as heavy as ever. Previously Daisy has explored minimalism, the New York School, and the more radical achievements of the AACM, but the new record seems to incorporate more improvisation, blurring the line where something written ends and something spontaneously created begins. That's not to say you can't pick up on Daisy's voice as a writer. The title track is one of his most beautiful, lyrical pieces; he sticks to written-out lines on marimba, while Falzone and Lonberg-Holm take lengthy, gorgeous solos, each deftly supporting the other with a repeating line. On "The Raft" the music contracts and expands, opens and shuts, in insistent, surgical blasts—shapes shift rapidly, from driving two-note volleys to fully open sections to dizzying zigzags. Below you can listen to album opener "De Grote Olifant."

photo: Matt Baron

Today's playlist:

Lucio Capece and Birgit Ulher, Choices (Another Timbre)
CimarrĂ³n, Joropo Music From the Plains of Colombia (Smithsonian Folkways)
Mariza, Fado Tradicional (Four Quarters)
Alberto Pinton Clear Now, Common Intent (Moserobie)
Guelewar, Halleli N'Dakarou (Teranga Beat)