The latest CD from Fred Lonberg-Holm's Fast Citizens is a corker. It's called Gather (Delmark 2017). This is a coterie of Chicago jazzmen who can play, led by Fred who can also write. All but two of the numbers were written and arranged by Londberg-Holm and they work very well with the players at hand. The front line is a potent mix of Aram Shelton, alto sax and clarinet, Keefe Jackson at the tenor and bass clarinet, Josh Berman, cornet, and Fred, cello and tenor guitar. When backed up by the one-two thrust of Anton Hatwich and Frank Rosaly (bass and drums, respectively) this is one heady mix. There are group improvisations of an exhilarating kind, very good individual solo spots and arrangements/comps showing lots of imaginative creativity.
The group has character--every player is a fully developed improviser with a sound, and Fred uses that and their abilities to build impressive performances that are out and structured at the same time.
There is point in the final cut, "Roses" where it sounds as if everyone is on trumpet and that is pretty funny!! But otherwise this is seriously good avant jazz from strong players (and writers). It gets down to business carving out seven niches of exciting avant jazz, showing you why Chicago is still a major center for the music. Get this one by all means.
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