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A mainstay on Chicago’s improvised-music scene, Reed reveals a set of extremely big ears in this collection of freewheeling duets with fellow musical provocateurs from the Windy City. Reed—a kind of Chicago counterpart to New York’s Susie Ibarra—reacts immediately and instinctively on the kit in his encounters here with guitarist Jeff Parker, synth specialist Jim Baker and flutist Nicole Mitchell. Along the way he creates coloristic touches and percussive textures that fall well outside the jazz-drumming tradition, drawing from an expansive vocabulary that borrows more from the sonic innovations of David Moss, Charles K. Noyes, Milford Graves and Don Moye than it does from the bebop canon.
Reed’s two improvised pieces with guitarist Parker recall similarly textural experiments that guitarist Fred Frith might have indulged in with Moss during the late ’70s and early ’80s, while the drummer’s three tracks with Baker—a melding of microtones and polyrhythms—recall equally out excursions during that golden period by electronic avant-gardists Bob Ostertag and Richard Teitelbaum. The three tracks with kindred spirit Mitchell are no less provocative or telepathic. This is definitely fringe stuff, artfully executed.