Percussionist Tim Daisy plays a solo set, followed by an improvised duo set with trumpeter Russ Johnson. Info/tix
Downtown Madison recording studio Audio For The Arts has also served over the years as a cozy and warm-sounding space for live performances, with the audience seated right there in front of the musicians in the main live room. It has especially provided an essential, if sporadic, venue for avant-garde jazz and boundary-pushing improvised music (including the much-missed Surrounded By Reality Music Series), and Madison free-jazz trio Brennan Connors & Stray Passage even recorded a couple of live shows for the 2017 album Emergence. Jazz at Audio For The Arts is on the upswing again, and it'll provide an ideal setting for listening closely to the work of Chicago-based percussionist Tim Daisy and Milwaukee-based trumpeter Russ Johnson. Both musicians are tireless experimenters—the amount of music Daisy puts out through his Relay Recordings label spans all sorts of solo and collaborative configurations—who move fluidly between complex, through-composed pieces and sharp-edged, abstract tangents. They explored both extremes on Johnson's 2014 album Meeting Point, recorded in a quartet setting with bassist Anton Hatwich and bass clarinetist Jason Stein. In between Johnson's playfully angular composed pieces, the album features a series of duet improvisations between Johnson and each of the other band members. "Conversation (Daisy)" finds the two gently prodding at each other in a mix of tuneful passages and eerie warbles. That's at least a hint of the versatility one can expect from the improvised duo set they'll play during the second half of this show.
To start things off, Daisy will be performing a solo set for drumkit and glass percussion. This part of the evening might take some cues from Daisy's recent album New Works For Solo Percussion, one of six releases he has issued through Relay this year. (On a couple of the others, he collaborated with musicians including electronic experimenter Rafael Toral and documented an all-percussion trio with Phil Sudderberg and Julian Kirshner.) Daisy has incorporated all manner of repurposed objects, even turntables and radios, into his past solo work, and this latest release has some of that but largely focuses in on the possibilities of drumkit and relatively conventional percussion instrumentals like crotales and marimba. One track, "Wood On Copper," dials in closely on the hi-hat, stretching out the voice of a percussion object that we usually only associate with a couple of very specific, rather clipped sounds within a piece of music. But here the hi-hat gets to breathe: it rustles, it trills, even at times approaches the kind of expansive resonance you'd expect from a ride cymbal or a gong. The album's four-part "Construction House" suite uses drumkit to create a suspenseful range of rhythmic structures, but with a patient approach that coaxes depth and texture from each component. —Scott Gordon