Among the thousands of under-appreciated or under-publicized albums that were released in 2010, hundreds became our favorites and were presented in ALARM and on AlarmPress.com. Of those, we pared down to 100 outstanding releases, leaving no genre unexplored in our list of this year’s overlooked gems.
Chicago Odense Ensemble: “Soup” [audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Chicago_Odense_Ensemble_Soup.mp3|titles=Chicago Odense Ensemble “Soup”]
Hajduch: Chicago Odense Ensemble is the latest foray of Rob Mazurek (Exploding Star Orchestra, Chicago Underground, Isotope 217)into large-group jazz fusion. He’s brought along some of his previous collaborators (Jeff Parker and Dan Bitney of Tortoise and Isotope 217; Matt Lux, also of Isotope 217) as well as some fresh faces (Jonas Munk and Jakob Skøtt of European psych band Causa Sui and percussionist Brian Keigher).
Mikrokolektyw: “Running Without Effort” [audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Mikrokolektyw_Running_Without_Eff.mp3|titles=Mikrokolektyw: “Running without Effort”]
Hajduch: Mikrokolektyw (pronounced micro-collective) is the Polish duo of Kuba Suchar and Artur Majewski. Together, they make a very primal sort of experimental jazz, rooted in Suchar’s one-man rhythm section of drums and Moog. Atop this framework, Majewski adds restrained, thoughtful trumpet lines. The result is head-nodding and hypnotic, and at times would not sound out of place in an Italian horror film scored by Goblin.
It also sounds like classic Chicago jazz fusion, like what Rob Mazurek‘s Isotope 217 and various Chicago Underground ensembles have accomplished. The sparse, melodic trumpet playing owes a lot to Miles Davis‘ In a Silent Way, and there’s a punchy moment of ensemble playing (here, “ensemble” means Majewski doubled) in “Watermelon from the 80s” that sounds like a riff from a Fela Kuti song. This guy would definitely call the cops on this album.
In the winter of 2008, Danish musicians Jonas Munk and Jakob Skøtt hunkered down in a Chicago studio with locals such as Jeff Parker and Dan Bitney of Tortoise, Matt Lux of Isotope 217, and composer/cornetist Rob Mazurek of Exploding Star Orchestra and Chicago Underground Duo.
Brought together by Brian Keigher, the group of all-stars combined their unique blend of styles in total improvisation, the result of which recalls Miles Davis‘ ventures in electronic music in the early ’70s. Loose ideas and grooves come together into well-developed electro-jazz soundscapes frequently punctuated by brilliant virtuosic solos.
Jason Adasiewicz has made a name for himself as a strong, unique voice in Chicago’s rich underground jazz and improvisational scene. He has lent his gorgeous, melodic vibraphone playing to literally dozens of ensembles and recordings, weaving his way through the highly collaborative network of progressive improvisers that has established itself in the clubs and practice spaces of Chicago.