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Wednesday, April 15, 2009 06:35 am

And all that (free) jazz

The End Times Trio

Heads up out there, music fans, the Springfield Freejazz and Creative Music Forum presents BoxDeserter Trio, an innovative ensemble of major players from the avant-garde music landscape, at 7:30 p.m., on Tuesday, April 21, at Charles & Limey’ s Lounge (620 S. First St.). The improvisational group, comprised of Skeeter Shelton (saxophones), Thollem McDonas (piano), and Joel Peterson (double-bassist and multi-instrumentalist) happen to be touring the Midwest through April, making this a wonderful and rare opportunity to see a world-renowned freejazz outfit right here in our backyard.

McDonas may be familiar to locals from his SFCMF-sponsored 2007 show at the Pizza Machine. The guy has literally been around the world since then, including shows in Europe and the U.S., on the road nearly constantly, performing and teaching. The trained pianist and a 2006 recipient of the National Endowment of the Arts Meet the Composer grant, approaches music as an improvisational gift using his acquired studies to create a unique work of “comprovisations” at each performance. As stated on his MySpace page: “It’ s my intention to make music that stimulates the mind and the body, that’s intellectual and sexy and meditative and ferocious and poetic and athletic and revolutionary and spiritual and political and humorous and loving and that will shake people awake, starting with me first.”

Shelton and Peterson, both based in the Detroit area, come as highly regarded players who’ve collaborated with many phenomenal and legendary musicians from the world of avant-garde and improvisational music. From what I can gather, BoxDeserter Trio may be a very good introduction to freejazz for those yet to experience the somewhat unsettling and conflicting music. They don’t always play upon the constant dissonance others in the genre seem to demand and require. At times they bump into some familiar, melodic progressions allowing for, possibly, an accessible, audible entrance into freejazz not entirely available with other groups in the field. Then again they may show up and go wild in the other direction and work their way into a cacophonic epiphany worthy of the greatest purveyors of discord to ever play chords or notes or noise or whatever you end up calling this kind of music. Whatever happens, come with open ears and you will leave rewarded.

End Times Trio, central Illinois’ only publicly performing, freejazz music ensemble, forms the nucleus of the Springfield Freejazz and Creative Music Forum. ETT originated when drummer-percussionist Richard Gilman-Opalsky moved here from New York City to take a position at UIS as a political science professor. The avant-garde musician teamed up with locals Frank Trompeter (saxophones) and Mark Schwartz (prepared guitar and bass), who previously performed together in UnToward, the other local, improvisational jazz group. Together the three experimental musicians unleashed freejazz upon the community and formed the organization that hosts the upcoming concert. Area artists, like Crissie Trigger on the musical saw and Rose Schweikhart on tuba, often collaborate with the band and the forum has booked several other major improvisational acts throughout the summer.

I’ve talked about freejazz before here, quoting the band as calling the style “uneasy music,” but no mere words can describe what the ear can hear. The best experience is to hear it and feel it and decide on your own what to make of all the ruckus.

Who knows, you may be the next super-proponent of freejazz, calling up your local DJ and requesting a tune, then demanding End Times Trio performs at your next company picnic. Or maybe you’ll just walk away with a new sense of understanding and awareness of the power and scope music extends to the human spirit.

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