The American composer and drummer is known, among other things, as a member of Peter Brötzmann’s Chicago Tentet. For his new project he invited musicians whom he’s often collaborated with over the past three decades. The result is Songs from the Big Book of Love – eight compositions, released in May by Pink Palace. The album was recorded during one of the band’s Chicago club concerts. Michael Zerang & The Blue Lights is Mars Williams, Dave Rempis, Joshua Berman and Kent Kessler.
“In many ways he has succeeded in redefining what versatility means to the modern saxophone player” said John Zorn about Mars Williams. Williams is a truly outstanding figure in American music — and he’s very hard to pigeonhole. The 60-year old saxophonist and composer moves around freely between free jazz, hip hop and rock. He’s recorded with an astonighings array of artists: The Psychedelic Furs, Billy Idol, Massacre, Fred Frith, Bill Laswell, Ministry, Power Station, Die Warzau, The Waitresses, Kiki Dee, The Mission UK, Swollen Monkeys, Gerry Garcia, Naked Raygun, Friendly Fires, The Untouchables, MC5, and most of Chicago’s and New York’s most important artists. Yet he remains most active in Chicago’s underground improvisation scene.
You might be familiar with saxophonist and composer Dave Rempis from the project Ballister, which he co-created with Paal Nilssen-Love and Fred Lonberg-Holm. He is a graduate of anthropology and ethnomusicology at Northwestern University and the University of Ghana in Legon. Rempis began his musical path as a substitute for Mars Williams in the Ken Vandermark Quartet in the second half of the 90s. He’s also a member of Umbrella Music, a Chicago-based collective dedicated to promoting jazz and improvised music, and a co-organizer of Pitchfork Music Festival.
Joshua Berman is an important figure on the Chicago improvised music scene, a self-taught clarinetist who fell in love with jazz by listening to Miles Davis. He was recruited by Weasel Walter, who was forming a band with music enthusiasts who had no formal training in music.Today, Berman works with Jason Adasiewicz and Nori Tanaka. He released his new records A Dance And A Hop earlier this year.
Finally, we have another Chicago-based musician – Kent Kessler. The double bassist has recorded and gigged with some of America’s finest (Hamid Drake, Fred Anderson and Joe McPhee), but also with some of Europe’s leading jazz players – Peter Brötzmann (Chicago Tentet), Mats Gustafsson, Misha Mengelberg and Luc Houtkamp. In 2003 OkkaDisk released his solo album Bull Fiddle. Right now he’s focused on touring with Michael Zerang.
The band will perform at Alchemia on 22nd November.