Read an Excerpt
Music Travel Worldwide
By Museyon Inc.
Museyon, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Museyon, Inc.
All rights reserved.
by Peter Margasak
Although jazz was born in and around New Orleans, there's little doubt that any other city was more responsible for its development and increasing popularity during the 1920s than Chicago. Boasting abundant employment opportunities, a rich culture, and the possibility for social advancement (including the chance to hold public office), Chicago came to be known as one of the most desirable and livable locations for African-Americans, who steadily migrated to the city's South Side throughout the decade.
As the population swelled, a vast network of nightclubs emerged, where legendary figures like Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, and Earl "Fatha" Hines regularly performed and recorded. Much of the action shifted to New York as the 20s drew to a close, but Chicago remained a magnet for southern blacks. So, for the next two decades, jazz, along with blues and rhythm & blues, continued to thrive. Hard bop flourished in the 50s, engendered by tenor greats like Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, Johnny Griffin, John Gilmore, and Von Freeman, and the one-and-only Sun Ra, who began formulating his magical take on Afro-Futurist big band music.
BEFORE YOU GO, GET IN THE KNOW
Earl "Fatha" Hines
A pianist who was one of many musicians attracted by Chicago's bustling scene in the 20s. He stuck around, setting up shop with an influential big band at the Grand Terrace Café, where he gave Charlie Parker one of his first pro gigs and where loose after-hours jam sessions laid the foundation for bebop.
Sun Ra (a.k.a Herman Blount)
He burst onto the Chicago scene in the mid-50s. His group spent its early years modernizing the sound of Fletcher Henderson's great orchestra. By the end of the decade, Ra had incorporated electric keyboards and started dressing his orchestra in wild costumes, planting the seeds of the 60s free-jazz explosion. photo: ©Tobias Akerboom
Got his start with Woody Herman's band, but made his mark in a two-tenor group with fellow DuSable vet Sonny Stitt. Ammons's melodic improvisations, imbued with a strong bluesiness and a breathy sensitivity derived from the great Ben Webster, were crowd-pleasers.
Another DuSable alum and one of the more adventurous tenor players in Chicago. His sharp, biting tone remains a fixture on the scene today. Although he's a dyed-in-the-wool hard bopper, Freeman has never been afraid to take the music out; in fact, you could say he's more daring than his son, Chico Freeman. photo: ©Vincenzo Innocente
The Art Ensemble of Chicago
Led a small exodus of progressive Chicago musicians to Paris. Probably the best known and most eclectic product of the AACM, the band — trumpeter Lester Bowie, bassist Malachi Favors, drummer Don Moye, and reedists Joseph Jarman and Roscoe Mitchell — smashed all preconceptions of what a "jazz" group could accomplish, living up to the AACM motto, "Great Black Music – Ancient to the Future." photo: ©Paulo Borgia
Polymath, reedist, and composer. A hero of the AACM, he is a fearless explorer who cut the first-ever album of solo saxophone performances. Never having felt the need to reconcile his love for cool jazz artists and avant-garde composers, Braxton has collaborated with everyone from Dave Brubeck to Wolf Eyes. photo: ©David Shechter
A big-toned tenor saxophonist involved in the genesis of the AACM. Even though he soon went his own way, he's had a huge impact on Chicago for more than four decades, taking musicians like George Lewis and Hamid Drake under his wing. photo: ©neonwar
A reedist who put Chicago jazz back on the map in the 90s, sparking a free jazz and improvised-music explosion that shows no signs of abating. He searches out unconventional spaces in which to present his music, attracting a new audience by taking his high-energy free jazz into rock clubs rather than stuffy jazz venues. photo: ©Andy Newcombe
A cornetist who started out as a hardline hard-bopper. After discovering the Art Ensemble of Chicago, he opened up his musical imagination and began a fruitful partnership with Tortoise guitarist Jeff Parker. They've released a series of thrilling albums under the moniker The Chicago Underground. photo: ©Angela Novaes
The current president of the AACM, and one of the greatest flute players on the planet. With her band Black Earth Ensemble, Mitchell has composed a series of extended suites drawing inspiration from figures like Alice Coltrane and Octavia Butler. photo: ©Michael Jackson
Things changed in the 60s, when Chicago's economy started to collapse. Taverns opted for organ trios or DJs to cut costs, leaving most musicians hungry for work. Out of this atmosphere came the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians), a group of daring individuals who took matters into their own hands. They set up their own concert series, did their own promotion, and shredded the rules of jazz orthodoxy, freeing themselves to draw upon whatever traditions they saw fit. AACM greats like the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Muhal Richard Abrams, Leo Smith, Anthony Braxton, and Henry Threadgill — to name but a few — established Chicago as a hub for experimentation, and four decades later, their model still thrives.
Many of the AACM's leading lights ended up in New York by the mid-70s, leading to a somewhat fallow time in Chicago. But those who remained, including tenor great Fred Anderson and isolated mavericks like reedist-drummer Hal Russell, kept things cooking. The scene exploded again in the mid-90s, and at the center of it all was reedist Ken Vandermark, who combined the ideals of the AACM and the brash energy of Russell with strong European influences. The fervor of his music attracted a new, younger audience. Before too long, thanks in part to the emergence of the so-called post-rock scene — spearheaded by like-minded, forward-looking groups like Tortoise and Gastr del Sol — musicians started flocking to the city. Eventually Vandermark and music journalist John Corbett started a weekly series at The Empty Bottle (a rock club) and things sprouted from there. Spaces have come and gone, but there hasn't been a serious drought in 15 years. Now the scene is stronger and more diverse than ever, with the musician-run Umbrella Music Collective driving much of the action.
INFLUENTIAL CHICAGO JAZZ ALBUMS
The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven
Earl "Fatha" Hines
Earl Hines and the Duke's Men (1944–47)
Art Ensemble of Chicago
Americans Swinging in Paris: The Pathe
Fred Anderson & Hamid Drake
From the River to the Ocean (2007)
Beat Reader (2008)
ART IMITATING LIFE: THE MUSIC IN MOVIES
Films About Artists:
Let's Get Lost (1988)
Director: Bruce Weber
Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (1988)
Director: Charlotte Zwerin
Director: Clint Eastwood
Young Man with a Horn (1950)
Director: Michael Curtiz
Space is the Place (1974)
Director: John Coney
Kansas City (1996)
Director: Robert Altman
Round Midnight (1986)
Director: Bertrand Tavernier
Soundtracks Featuring Artists' Music: Shadows (1959)
Director: John Cassavetes
Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
Elevator to the Gallows (1958)
Director: Louis Malle
Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
Director: Otto Preminger
Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
Director: Alexander Mackendrick
Naked Lunch (1991)
Director: David Cronenberg
SEE IT FOR YOURSELF
Chicago Jazz Festival (Chicago)
The programming is diverse — and often a mixed bag in terms of quality — but the best thing about this behemoth festival, held every September in Grant Park, is that admission is free.
Umbrella Music Festival (Chicago)
While at heart a showcase for the city's more adventurous musicians, this annual event taking place in November typically includes a handful of national heavies and up to a half-dozen acts from Europe, brought in as part of an initiative with local branches of foreign consulates.
Edgefest (Ann Arbor, MI)
Held each October, this festival takes place at multiple venues, including the Kerrytown Concert House, and features progressive and avant-garde jazz.
Vision Festival (New York, NY)
Inspired by the 1981 and 1984 Sound Unity Festivals, this event showcases experimental music (predominantly avant-garde and free jazz), art, film, and dance. It is held on the Lower East Side every year in June.
Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville (Victoriaville, Quebec)
This international music festival takes place every year in May and features contemporary jazz music.
MAP OF VENUES AND CITY LANDMARKS
1 Jazz Showcase
Hosts a who's who of national acts, from vets like James Moody to new bloods such as Kurt Rosenwinkel.
806 S. Plymouth Ct.
+ 312 360 0234
2 Velvet Lounge
Presents adventurous jazz. The most reliable place to catch old and new members of the AACM.
67 E. Cermak Rd.
+ 312 791 9050
3 New Apartment Lounge
The amoeba-shaped Formica bar is certainly worth a gander, plus Von Freeman leads his jam session here every Tuesday night.
504 E. 75th St.
+ 773 483 7728
4 Green Mill
With the exception of the Cultural Center, this is the only extant venue in Chicago that could qualify as a genuine landmark.
4802 N. Broadway
+ 773 878 5552
One of the friendliest and warmest music venues in town. Also plays host to the Umbrella Music Festival.
1354 W. Wabansia Ave.
+ 773 227 4433
6 Hungry Brain
Most nights it's jukebox music, but that changes on Sundays, when Umbrella Music presents their "Sunday Transmission" series, a dynamic mix of local and touring acts. Their annual festival takes place here too.
2319 W. Belmont Ave.
+ 773 935 2118
7 Chicago Cultural Center
One of the city's greatest treasures, a true palace of culture where everything is free: concerts, film screenings, art exhibitions, dance performances, and more.
78 E. Washington St.
+ 312 744 6630
An unassuming, comfortable, non-profit space that programs a wide range of adventurous music, particularly of the jazz and free-improvised variety. This space also plays host to the Umbrella Music Festival.
2830 N. Milwaukee Ave.
+ 773 772 3616
9 Jazz Record Mart
One of the oldest, largest, and greatest jazz and blues record shops in the world.
27 E. Illinois St.
+ 312 222 1467
10 Empty Bottle
A well-known rock club where Ken Vandermark and music journalist John Corbett started their weekly series.
1035 N. Western Ave.
+ 773 276 3600
11 Dusty Groove
Features an excellent, carefully curated mix of CDs and LPs (the used vinyl includes many rarities) with an emphasis on jazz, soul, and Brazilian music.
1120 N. Ashland Ave.
+ 773 342 5800
BRING THE NOISE, BRING THE PUNK
by James Hendicott
If you only see one band in Dublin, make it Blood or Whiskey. They mix harmonicas and tin whistles with all the raw aggression of modern-day punk rock, and they embody the spirit of the Celtic punk scene, where at sweat-drenched shows in dingy basements, headbangers throw back pints of Guinness with shamrocks peeking through swirls of foam. Men with Mohawks and piercings bounce around joyfully as bands thrash away at unfathomable speed, brimming with national pride.
Too fun to be angry and too raw to be fashionable, this vibrant scene could only be in Ireland's capital, where the world's most famous pubs provide the backdrop, and the stars are the freshly brewed pints of "the black stuff," the playful dancing, and the loud, lairy, all-night-long music. Ireland's rural traditions — combined with hundreds of years of defying English occupation — inform Dublin's boisterous music scene, which stretches from superclub warehouses to tiny cafés populated by one man and his guitar to the underground roar of Celtic punk.
BEFORE YOU GO, GET IN THE KNOW
Rock n' Stroll: Dublin's Music Trail by Dublin Tourism
Irish Folk, Trad and Blues by Colin Harper
Green Suede Shoes by Larry Kirwan
Pogue Mahone Kiss My Arse: The Story of the Pogues by Carol Clerk
The legendary singer, bassist, songwriter and front man for Thin Lizzy. His statue in Temple Bar is a spot revered by local street musicians (and often fought over). photo: ©RinzeWind
Blood or Whiskey
Ireland's current-day Celtic punk heroes. They've fought through a member's death, jail time, and numerous lineup changes. photo: ©Pat O'Leary
Formed in 1962, the Irish folk band that started it all. They made a name for themselves by playing regular gigs at O'Donoghue's Pub. photo: ©Henry Schmidt
Formed in 1982, this infamous punk band from Dublin broke up 10 years later, but recently decided to give it another go with the release of a new album in January 2009. photo: ©Stuart Chalmers
Spud N*ggers (a.k.a Da Spuds)
The controversial Celt rockers from Athlone. The name of the band comes from a less-than-PC reference to the Irish niche in the old-world caste system famously paraphrased in the film The Commitments. photo: ©Kimberly Lightholder
Formed in 1970, the Horslips were one of the original Celtic rock bands. They composed, arranged, and performed their songs based on traditional Irish jigs and reels. They called it quits in 1980, but in 2005 the original line-up reunited and performed a few shows. photo: ©Daragh Owens
Ireland's answer to the Sex Pistols. Formed in 1976 and hailing from Derry, this band released four albums before breaking up in 1983. photo: ©Alterna2
The Irish singer, songwriter, actor and political activist who entered the public conscience originally as a member of the rock band The Boomtown Rats. photo: ©Erik Charlton
Like punk rock itself, Celtic punk is a rebellion-fueled aural barrage. Combining traditional Irish instrumentation with electric guitars and other "rock" sounds, it could be described as Irish folk played hard and in a serious hurry. While Celtic punk may sound upbeat and lighthearted, especially compared to the stereotypical grimness of British punk, its sunny swagger and wild abandon just give a different face to the same potent energy. Irish musicians play angry rebel songs with wry smiles on their faces, and they play them almost anywhere.
The roots of Celtic punk date back to 18th-century agricultural Ireland, where — as a break from lamenting British imperialism — folk music helped pass the drizzly winters. Much of this was first performed by solo singers, but by the time it drifted to Dublin, piercing penny whistles, staccato fiddles, and twanging banjos had been added to the heartfelt vocals. At its peak in the late 1950s, Irish folk music was an international success, and more orchestral acts like The Dubliners and The Chieftains created a spin-off genre, Celtic fusion.
Famine, war, and economics have long led the Irish to travel — often within the bosom of their Imperial neighbor — and it was amongst expats that Celtic punk took shape. In the 70s and 80s, émigrés gathered in London's Irish bars, celebrating their heritage with traditional music nights. Around the same time, of course, punk rock was being imported across the pond from New York City. Acts like The Pogues (a London-based group with Irish heritage) and The Skids (based in Fife, Scotland) were the first to combine the propulsive drumming and rich melodic clatter of Celtic folk with the full-on electric assault of punk. The Pogues, in particular, made a big impact: it didn't take long for their sound, essentially the template for Celtic punk, to return to its spiritual home.
Excerpted from Music Travel Worldwide by Museyon Inc.. Copyright © 2012 Museyon, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Museyon, Inc..
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