Detroit percussionist Ben Hall explores friction, breath, and other small vibrations | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Detroit percussionist Ben Hall explores friction, breath, and other small vibrations

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Feverishly inventive and wildly curious, percussionist Ben Hall is pretty catholic in his creative pursuits—he also co-owns a restaurant in his native Detroit and is an accomplished visual artist. A former student of singular percussionist Milford Graves and one of the final collaborators with trumpeter Bill Dixon, Hall also led the gloriously chaotic free-noise combo Graveyards with Wolf Eyes founder John Olson. His playing makes room for barrages of furious, surging-and-receding energy along with drone-oriented bowing and rubbing, whether deafening or pin-drop quiet. After an impressive run of albums made with collaborators such as Dixon, Borbetomagus saxophonist Don Dietrich, and guitarist Joe Morris, Hall’s recorded output has been nil for the past five years. That’s about to change. He’s set to appear on a number of releases in the coming months, where the music will run the gamut from free jazz in a woolly sextet to a pair of epic collages he calls “big band,” on which he mixes 40 different free-jazz solo LPs from his own collection. In this rare Chicago performance, part of ESS’s Option series, Hall will present three works for solo percussion, applying various extended techniques he calls “methodologies,” such as using his own breath on an amplified bass drum or vibrating a drum’s surface with friction and various objects.   v

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