Monday 8 July 2019, 7.30pm
“Abrams discovers new levels of mood and tone; his pieces seem to escape time completely.” – Marc Masters, Pitchfork
“It feels startlingly new, in terms of how the music is extrapolated, how the players relate, even as it feels like an ur-music, primal, body-centered, essential.” – David Keenan, The Wire
Joshua Abrams developed his voice in the rich ferment of the 1990s Chicago music world, participating heavily across the city’s jazz, experimental & rock scenes. He co-founded the ‘back porch minimalist’ band Town & Country &, with Matana Roberts & Chad Taylor, the trio Sticks & Stones. In a very busy two decades Abrams recorded & toured with a remarkable range of artists including extended engagements with Fred Anderson, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Hamid Drake, Theaster Gates, Neil Michael Hagerty, Nicole Mitchell, Jeff Parker, Mike Reed, Matana Roberts, & The Roots. Abrams appears on over one hundred recordings. A film composer, Abrams has scored the music for five feature length films including the award-winning films Life Itself, The Interrupters and The Trials of Muhammad Ali.
Since 2011 Abrams has toured North America & Europe with a shifting-line up of musicians as ‘Natural Information Society’. The band's most recent album, Magnetoception, was selected by The Wire Magazine as the #3 record of 2015 & by Pitchfork as the #2 experimental record of 2015. Abrams assembled Natural Information Society around his interests in the Moroccan instrument the guimbri. The band uses traditional & conventional instrumentation to create long-form intricately psychedelic environments, composed & improvised, which join the hypnotic qualities of Gnawa guimbri music to a wide range of contemporary musics & methodologies including jazz, minimalism & krautrock. Current & former band members include Lisa Alvarado, Jason Adasiewicz, Mikel Avery, Ben Boye, Hamid Drake, Emmett Kelly, Jeff Parker, Frank Rosaly & Chad Taylor. Natural Information Society teamed up with Bitchin Bajas on the collaborative album ‘Automaginary,’ released by drag city in 2015.
Joshua Abrams / guimbri and double bass
Lisa Alvarado / harmonium and gong
Jason Stein / bass clarinet
Mikel Avery / drums
Alexander Hawkins is musician who is ‘unlike anything else in modern creative music’ (Ni Kantu) and whose recent work has reached a ‘dazzling new apex’ (Downbeat).
As a pianist, he has been described as ‘remarkable...possessing staggering technical ability and a fecund imagination as both player and composer.’ Concerning his organ playing, critic Brian Morton recently commented that ‘[t]he most interesting Hammond player of the last decade and more, [Hawkins] has already extended what can be done on the instrument.’
His writing has been said to represent ‘a fundamental reassertion of composition within improvised music’ (Point of Departure), and his voice one of the ‘most vividly distinctive...in modern jazz’ (The Jazzmann).
An in-demand collaborator as well as soloist, composer, and bandleader, Hawkins continues to be heard live and on record with vast array of contemporary leaders of all generations, including the likes of Evan Parker, John Surman, Joe McPhee, Mulatu Astatke, Wadada Leo Smith, Anthony Braxton, Marshall Allen, Han Bennink, Hamid Drake, Rob Mazurek, Taylor Ho Bynum, Harris Eisenstadt, Matana Roberts, and Shabaka Hutchings, amongst many others. He has also been noted for a number of years for his performances in the bands of legendary South African drummer, Louis Moholo-Moholo.
Concert appearances have taken him to major club, concert and festival stages worldwide.
“…Hawkins is a really vital link in a long historical chain, and his ability to sculpt his own language from a deeply rooted creative bedrock is compelling” - Jazzwise
“Sounds like all the future jazz you might imagine without ever being able to conceive of the details” - The Guardian