At the beginning of 2017, Chicago vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz brought a quintet into the hallowed halls of Electrical Audio, Steve Albini's legendary studio. The project was intended as a session to wax music for a new film, Roy's World: Barry Gifford's Chicago, a documentary by Rob Christopher based on the Roy's World series of short stories by Barry Gifford. With Christopher producing and providing guidance in terms of imagery, but without a film to cut to, Adasiewicz wrote music aimed at creating a specific set of atmospheres, basically making a record before any footage was chosen. "In a way, it was always a record, since I didn't have anything to look at or to hamper me," says Adasiewicz. "I had to write the tunes, that was it." For the session, he brought together a crack team to bring the charts to life, a task they more than accomplished. Hamid Drake is one of the most storied drummers in creative music, here alloying with bassist Joshua Abrams, whose own Natural Information Society once included Adasiewicz in its ranks. Together, the rhythm section's momentum is unstoppable, and when they stretch out or dig into a sizzling swing, as on "Rudy's Basement," their thirst is unquenchable. Adasiewicz switches to balafon on "Blue People" and the groove bubbles and pops with the force of a Fela Kuti burner. On the front line, saxophonist Jonathan Doyle (now based in Port Townsend, Washington) brings a slinky joy to Jason's tunes, and cornetist Josh Berman adds his own tart inventions to the mix. Doyle, Berman, and Adasiewicz have worked together since the late nineties when they started An Diamo, a band that never released a proper record. Adasiewicz hangs back a bit in terms of soloing – it's really an ensemble effort, the spotlight on the gorgeous compositions and spacious sensibility, a perfect complement to Christopher's fascinating, beautiful film, which has a noir vibe set in a fifties version of the Windy City conjured by means of vintage found footage, narration by Willam Dafoe, Matt Dillon, and Lili Taylor, and Adasiewicz's score. Bluesy, swingful charts with elements that might recall the post-hard-bop Blue Note records of folks like Andrew Hill, Sam Rivers, and Grachan Moncur III, Roy's World is more than a great soundtrack record, it's a killer program of new tunes played by a monstrously strong band recorded and mixed at one of the world's finest facilities. Add to this "The Recital," a never-published story by Gifford printed in the LP gatefold, and this puppy positively comes out swinging, landing a solid KO.
Side A - 20:45
01 - River Blindness (Full) - 3:33
02 - Walkin’ To Clinton - 3:08
03 - Do More - 7:06
04 - Rudy’s Basement - 6:58
Side B - 21:02
05 - Blue People - 5:01
06 - Sand - 3:49
07 - Ballad For Kitty - 3:51
08 - Pops - 2:35
09 - River Blindness (Trio) - 5:47
Jason Adasiewicz: Vibraphone, Balafon
Jonathan Doyle: Saxophones
Josh Berman: Cornet
Joshua Abrams: Bass
Hamid Drake: Drums
All compositions by Jason Adasiewicz BMI
Recorded and engineered by Greg Norman at Electrical Audio, Chicago February 17-18, 2017.
Mixed by Mark Haines at Electrical Audio.
Mastered by Alex Inglizian at Experimental Sound Studio, Chicago. Artwork by Kevin Eskew.
Design by Michael Dyer/Remake.
Produced by Rob Christopher.
Segments of this music appear in Rob Christopher’s film Roy’s World: Barry Gifford’s Chicago, based on Barry Gifford’s short story collection of the same name.
“The Recital” © 2022 Barry Gifford. Used by permission