Jason Steele Quartet
The Cave, Chicago,IL
Saturday June 12, 2010
Story by Brad Walseth,
Photos by John Broughton, Copyright 2010
We recently caught two of Chicago's best young bands at The Cave - the underground bar located at the Serbian Cultural Center on Chicago's north side. Guitarist Jason Steele made a far-too-rare appearance with rather different version of his quartet consisting of usual cohort - brilliant trumpeter James Davis, along with the talented Kurt Schweitz replacing regular bassist Patrick Mulcahy and violinist Emi Tanabe appearing in place of drummer Andre Beasley. This configuration gave Steele an opportunity to present the softer side of his music, including several pieces written for his wedding.
As was to expected from these wonderful players, the performance was stellar, with Davis and Tanabe adding flowing lines over Steele's guitar washes and Schweitz' steady pulse. Shimmering, colorful and hypnotic, the music ranged from classically-influenced compositions to a cover of Sufjan Stevens' "Rake." Steele is a young composer to watch for and I hope we will be hearing much for him in the future, and hope he will write more music utilizing the splendid Tanabe as well.
Meanwhile, the event also signaled the temporary return from NYC of saxophonist Greg Ward, in an appearance with bassist Jeff Greene's Blink ensemble. This engaging outfit includes uber-guitarist Dave Miller and underrated drummer Quin Kirchner, and their repertoire ranges from the atmospheric to the industrial with free jazz elements, electronics and techno elements involved. Shredding ferociously from silence to a crescendo and back, this group's sound collages create the experience of a factory of dinosaurs - both primeval and modern at once.
In prepartion for their eagerly awaited sophomore release (soon we are told) the group has been playing a number of gigs and Greene tolf me he has been amazed at how the individual musician's have taken the music in surprising new directions each night. Indeed Greene and his band mates were all smiles as they pulled out new tricks at various times. Some highlights included Kirchner on mallets on a drum solo and Miller inserting a credit card or piece of paper between his strings and the fretboard to create what sounded like a Japanese koto. We await the new album with anticipation.
Jason Steele Ensemble
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