HEAR/BUY THE MUSIC HERE.
Back in 2001, I was accepted to the Manhattan School of Music to finish my masters in performance and composition. I got a hefty scholarship, and was excited to go to NYC, the center of the musical universe. The summer before moving to NYC, I decided to visit my dad in Chicago for a few months. One Wednesday night at The Empty Bottle, I saw cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and Michael Zerang performing with some low brass dude from Europe (I became so fixated on Fred and Michael that I could never recall who was playing with them).
That night changed my life profoundly. I heard everything I was interested in-- punk, new classical, jazz, drone, pointilism... played with such mastery and mystery. Rosin was puffing off Fred's cello strings, vibrators were coaxing ghosts from Michael's snare drum. Dense rhythmic washes carried me off into a new mindset. "SHIT. It's OK to make this kind of music?"
They made so much music that night. I made the decision to stay in Chicago and learn about improvisation, bailing on my scholarship and the promise of NYC's wonderful scene. I needed to learn about improv on the bandstand, over drinks, at record stores. Over the years, Fred and Michael have taught me a lot about improvisation, art, performance, professionalism, touring chops...They're true masters and giving mentors. Fred in particular, has given me lots of opportunities to play great music. Thanks, FLH, for helping me find my musical universe in Chicago.