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April 2007

Keefe Jackson's Fast Citizens
Ready Everyday
Delmark Records

Chicago continues to be the focal point for an expansive improvisational scene and a magnet for young players looking for like-minded fellows to explore new terrain. Here you have a lineup of musicians, all but one under 40, originally from a half-dozen different states and active in an ever-shifting and growing number of ensembles. Saxophonist Jackson, who makes his debut as leader and wrote five of the disc’s seven compositions, is involved in a number of bands, including the Lucky 7s, the 774th Street Quartet, the Festival Quartet, Keefe Jackson’s Project Project and the Chicago Luzern Exchange (with Citizen cornetist Josh Berman and drummer Frank Rosaly, who together with tuba player Mark Unternährer recorded Several Lights in 2005). That the scene is as fluid conceptually as well is evidenced by the freewheeling, insistently swinging and wide-ranging sounds to be found here. The tight group (alto saxophonist Aram Shelton, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and bassist Anton Hatwich round out the lineup) is a meaty postbop ensemble on the opening “Ready Everyday,” but a delicate little outfit in their anti-“Band Theme”; they soar in like a Hendrix-ian dive bomber in the opening of “Signs” and then tap dance with jittery insistence through “Saying Yes,” effortlessly segueing from the delicately to the ominously dark (“Blackout,” “Pax Urbanum”). Ready Everyday documents citizens of the Windy City’s combustive jazz scene continuing to stretch, seek out the new and defy the orthodoxies, even their own.

Originally published in April 2007
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