Terrie Hessels & Ken Vandermark | Co-Prosperity Sphere | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Terrie Hessels & Ken Vandermark Soundboard

When: Sat., July 16, 8 p.m. 2011

Dutch punks the Ex have been visiting Ethiopia for nearly a decade, and in 2008 founding guitarist Terrie Hessels helped launch a cultural exchange program—he visits the country regularly, performing with his bandmates and other foreign guests, collaborating with locals, giving workshops, and even bringing in repairmen to mend broken instruments and train their Ethiopian counterparts. Earlier this year Hessels released Addis (on his own Terp imprint), an improvised duet with French clarinetist Xavier Charles, who participated in the program in May 2009; they recorded it in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, both in a hotel room and in the garden of a bar, leaving in ambient sounds like barking dogs and background conversation. The bulk of the pieces are quiet, in keeping with those settings—on the opening track Hessels mostly scrapes the strings of his electric guitar with his amp turned all the way down. Chicago reedist Ken Vandermark, who made the trip to Ethiopia in December 2009, has worked with the Ex increasingly in recent years—he was part of the band’s Brass Unbound project, alongside Mats Gustafsson, Roy Paci, and Wolter Wierbos—and he plays with Hessels in Lean Left, a hard-hitting improvising quartet with drummer Paal Nilssen-Love and Ex guitarist Andy Moor. On the recent The Ex Guitars Meet Nilssen-Love/Vandermark Duo: Volume 2 (Smalltown Superjazzz) they kick up some serious dust, and Hessels displays scrappy rhythmic creativity throughout. When Vandermark was in Addis Ababa, he gave workshops, played with saxophone great Getatchew Mekuria, and took lots of photos—pictures that later inspired painter, singer, and former Chicagoan Adrienne Pierluissi (she runs the Sugar Maple and Palm Tavern in Milwaukee with her husband, Okka Disk owner Bruno Johnson) to create new work, using them as creative seeds. An exhibit of Vandermark’s photos and Pierluissi’s paintings called Addis Experience opens tonight at 5 PM; at 7 PM the venue will show video footage of Addis Ababa by Emma Fischer, an artist and filmmaker who started the cultural exchange with Hessels, and at 8 PM Vandermark and Hessels will perform as a duo. The two musicians will spin Ethiopian records after their set, and the exhibit will stay up through the end of July. —Peter Margasak

Price: Donation requested

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