Mike Reed's Loose Assembly; Josh Abrams, Jim Baker, and Tatsuya Nakatani | Hungry Brain | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Mike Reed's Loose Assembly; Josh Abrams, Jim Baker, and Tatsuya Nakatani Recommended Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Sun., Jan. 18, 10 p.m. 2009

It’s been a very good year for drummer Mike Reed. His quartet People, Places & Things earned widespread praise, and he’s finally getting some of the recognition he deserves for his behind-the-scenes work programming the Pitchfork and Umbrella music festivals. A little lost in the shuffle was The Speed of Change (482 Music), the second record from his quintet Loose Assembly. Though the compositions are all excellent—Reed’s lovely, brooding melodic sketches, a gem by Ethiopian vibraphonist Mulatu Astatqe, Max Roach’s “Garvey’s Ghost,” with guest Nicole Mitchell taking the vocal role Abbey Lincoln filled on the original—Loose Assembly gets its juice mainly from its sharp brand of ensemble interplay. Alto saxophonist Greg Ward and cellist Tomeka Reid provide top-notch front-line melodic action, alternating between unison passages and loosey-goosey exchanges, but most of the best things about the music are more subtle: vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz sculpting complex harmonic matrices; bassist Josh Abrams roping the pulse into taut, knotty phrases; Reed scraping out skittery accents and startling tone colors. The band never falls into merely vamping behind a soloist—rather its entire performance is like a single improvisational act, a surprisingly coherent statement made by five people speaking at once. A trio of Abrams, percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani, and keyboardist Jim Baker opens. —Peter Margasak

Price: Donation requested

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