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Another Fine Mess

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Album Review

This series of duets between brass and strings is a quirky view of the kind of improvisation that relies on the deepest kind of intuitive listening and the keenest sense of humor — something Jon Corbett possesses in spades. Make no mistake; this isn't some free rambling atonal jelly record. Rather, it's a fairly precise series of improvisations done in a jazz mannerism that accents not only the interplay of the instruments involved — whether they be trumpet with electric guitar, trombone with acoustic guitar or vice versa — but also the differing nuances of tone, dynamic, and timbre than can be broached, breached, and completely abrogated while still making music. There are nine selections here, and none of them matter in and of themselves. True, some are more "jazz" than others, but in a sense none of them would make sense on their own. They stand as a body of work recorded over a couple of days that reflect mindset, attitude, manual dexterity, and willingness on the part of the two principals. The most important aspect of this music is how playful and good-natured it is. So often improvisers are so serious the music they create, no matter how innovative, is strangled beneath the weight of their concerns. That's not the case here, as this set is wildly creative, but it's warm, funny, and wry as well. This is avant jazz you can almost hum to.


Born: 1963 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Not to be confused with the Northern Exposure actor, John Corbett is an important figure on Chicago's fertile experimental music scene. A guitarist and electronics manipulator, Corbett's main contributions have nonetheless come from behind the scenes — as an accomplished writer, journalist, educator, producer, and (beginning in 2000) the curator of the Atavistic label's Unheard Music Series reissue program. Born in Chicago in 1963, Corbett found his way to free jazz from the more abrasive and...
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Another Fine Mess, Jon Corbett
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