Jul 13 2017
Chicago bar and club The Whistler has its own Bandcamp page, and it’s pretty damn amazing. The Logan Square joint does food, drinks and local music. They’re also establishing an extra retail avenue for the artists who perform on their stage. They release a “Weekly Free” of music recorded on their turf, and it’s priced Free or Name Your Price (NYP) on their very own Bandcamp page, and any money you choose to pay for the music goes to the artists 100%.
It’s a great opportunity to check out some amazing musicians, and also to hear them in a live setting. Today’s column will give you a brief rundown on the local jazz musicians that have a slot on the Whistler Bandcamp page.
But first, a quick note about Name Your Price etiquette: Whether marked Free or Name Your Price, this music is free for you to download. You should. The musicians want you to have it in your music library to enjoy. But if you’re reading this site, no matter how diverse your backgrounds and experiences and lives may be, I’m completely certain that you all give a damn about the musicians who make your lives better with their creative pursuits, and you’d like to support them. So, for those of you who don’t have a lot of familiarity with the Bandcamp NYP/Free models, here’s some approaches people commonly take:
- Download the album, entering $0.00 as the price (for the Name Your Price), and if you like the music, you go back to download it again and this time enter a dollar amount that you think is fair; and if you don’t like the album, pay nothing.
- Download the album, entering $0.00 as the price, and if you like the music, you go check out their proper studio recordings and buy one of those instead.
- Download the album, entering $0.00 as the price, and if you like the live album, you go buy a ticket to one of their shows and check them out live, and maybe shoot them an email or social media comment letting them know their Bandcamp free album compelled you to support their show.
Obviously, any funds these musicians raise is gonna get invested in making more music, so it’s in everyone’s best interests that we financially support the musicians who build the creative supports that we rely upon to get through life and to remind us how beautiful life can be.
Anyways, I just wanted to get that out there. Now, about this music… let’s begin.
Meridian Trio – Andromeda EP
Three tracks from the trio of alto saxophonist Nick Mazzarella, bassist Matt Ulery and drummer Jeremy Cunningham: one bop, one blues and one that has that weary but transcendent soul of a deep spiritual jazz tune. All three of these names should ring familiar to readers of this site and my eMusic, Wondering Sound and Bandcamp columns. In the instance of Ulery and Cunningham, they’ve each received a slot on this site’s various Best Of lists: Ulery with his 2012 release By a Little Light and Cunningham with his 2016 release re: Dawn (from afar). And of particular note on Mazzarella, he’s got a new album, Triangulum, out on Clean Feed Records with this same Meridian Trio.
Matt Ulery’s Loom – The Queen
It was Matt Ulery‘s 2011 release Flora.Fauna.Fervor. that first introduced me to the bassist’s predilection for fascinating, unusual music. While a world apart in terms of overall sound, Ulery’s music reminded me of some of Bill Frisell’s stranger output… something otherworldly, alien, but possessing a melodic beauty that makes everything comforting and familiar. The song “The Queen” sources from that 2011 album, and it’s accompanied by two remixes on this EP. Ulery’s Loom ensemble is comprised of pianist Rob Clearfield, trumpeter Thad Franklin, tenor saxophonist Tim Heideman, violinist Zach Brock, vibraphonist Katie Wiegman and drummer Jon Deitemyer.
Go and follow this link to check out more of Ulery’s music on this site.
Stirrup – Super Seeded
The quartet Stirrup get right in your face and don’t back off. The thing is, while the music often comes off as intense, even angry, all of that aggression has an oddly friendly bearing. Bassist Nick Macri, drummer Charles Rumback, trumpeter Russ Johnson and cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm are your musicians for this track. They were a trio back when they first hit my radar with the 2013 release Sewn, and their music hasn’t grown any calmer or normal since Johnson joined up. Edgy modern jazz, ferocious rock, untamed electronics and any other ingredients they can find in the cupboard go into the mix for what they serve up on a recording. If you like this track, go check out their live album A Man Can’t Ride On One, which was also recorded at the Whistler.
Dave McDonnell Group – Vox Orion
I first became familiar with the Dave McDonnell Group with their 2014 release The Dragon and the Griffin. Comprised of all-stars from the Chicago scene, the saxophonist’s particular voicing of the post-bop sound had an airy melodicism to pair with its unrepentant edge. McDonnell has moved from Chicago to Cincinnati, and the personnel have shifted around, too, but that particular free-grounded dichotomy is still there. Joining him on this set are vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, bassist Joshua Abrams and drummer Quin Kirchner.
In addition to checking out that 2014 release (linked above), also take a spin with his 2016 release Eidetic, which features this same quartet and was also recorded at The Whistler. In fact, many of the compositions on the live album were also featured on the 2014 studio recording. (Go check it out).
Makaya McCraven & Shane Parish – Spooky Action at a Distance
Drummer Makaya McCraven and guitarist Shane Parish had never performed together prior to this one-off show at the Whistler as part of their Stars Align series… a monthly concert & podcast presentation. McCraven’s name has been cropping up with increasing frequency among my various recommendations columns. This frenetic, jazz-rock-avant garde-etc piece shows his talent doesn’t pay attention to genre borders and that his creative dexterity is likely to appeal to quite a few of the musicians who have made an appearance on this site.
Want to hear more of McCraven’s expansive sound? Check out his 2015 release In the Moment.
And those are only just some of the tracks featured on
Be sure to dig into the rest and follow those other links to more music by these artists.