Bill Shoemaker

Bill’s Contributions

October 2004    News

People United: Rolling Stones' Charlie Watts, film director Mike Figgis and free-jazz legends?

Recordings sometimes have fascinating backstories. Usually, they are cases of serendipity or snafus resulting in altered or ad hoc groups that make unique music. Rarely does the backstory become as legendary as the recording on purely musical merits, which...


September 2004    Albums

Kabell Years: 1971-1979
Wadada Leo Smith

Affixing the AACM label to any musician is a somewhat dicey proposition, but particularly in the case of Wadada Leo Smith. Like Lester Bowie, the trumpeter had paid considerable dues in the territories before propitiously arriving in Chicago as the venerable...


July/August 2004    Albums

Mosaic Select 11: Dizzy Reece
Dizzy Reece

In the mid-1950s, the likes of Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins put the word out on Dizzy Reece, who then split his time between London and Paris. Subsequently, the Jamaican-born trumpeter was sought out by a who's-who of American jazz greats, including the...


May 2004    Features

Alexander von Schlippenbach: Global Unity

While he’s not all that well known in the U.S., Alexander von Schlippenbach is one of Europe’s favorite avant-garde musicians. The German pianist mixes free and contemporary classical elements to form an energetic hybrid of American and European music—which...


May 2004    Albums

Here and How!
Cameron Brown and the Hear and Now

Talk about overdue: For 40 years, Cameron Brown has worked with a ridiculously long list of heavyweights, but he has only now released an album under his own name. In an age of recorded-music saturation, that's astounding. Very much to his credit, the bassist...


May 2004    Albums

Birdland 1951
Miles Davis

Comprised of material from three dates and featuring two contrasting groups, Birdland 1951 finds Miles Davis in particularly good form. The trumpeter was on the rebound from personal and professional setbacks, so musically he returned to basics: bebop. Consistently...


May 2004    Albums

Tone Time
Susie Ibarra/Mark Dresser

At first glance, this duo seems to be something of a mismatch. Even though Susie Ibarra has been rightly identified as one of most refreshing percussionist-composer-bandleaders to emerge in recent years, she has not demonstrated the type of overwhelming...


April 2004    Albums

Trio Plus Two
Fred Hersch Trio

There is life after the major labels, liberation even. Perhaps no one has benefited more from severance from a blue-chip imprint in recent years than Fred Hersch. Despite the wide acclaim of albums like Passion Flower, Hersch's tenure with Nonesuch ended...


January/February 2004    Albums

The Box Set
Jimmy Lyons

Jimmy Lyons is one of the most intriguing musicians to emerge in the 1960s, as the alto saxophonist provided one of the strongest links between bebop and the New Thing. Unlike many of the movement's provincially raised exponents, Lyons spent his formative...


December 2003    Countercurrents

Furniture Music
Ken Vandermark

The title of Ken Vandermark's first solo CD, Furniture Music (OkkaDisk), is derived from an Erik Satie quote, advocating music that incorporates and reflects the environment in which it is created. Given the saxophonist/clarinetist's fealty to this spirit...


December 2003    Countercurrents

Rapid Croche
Jason Roebke

Just as OkkaDisk was the label of record for Chicago's '90s new breed, 482 Music is taking the lead in documenting an even newer wave rippling through Chicago's creative music scene. Leading a well-balanced trio with alto saxophonist/clarinetist Aram Shelton...


December 2003    Countercurrents

Verbs of Will
Open Loose

Still, to hear the difference between promise and fully realized innovation in horn-bass-drums trios, one needs to go no farther than Verbs Of Will (Radio Legs), the latest by Mark Helias' Open Loose. With a few years of touring under their belts, the bassist...


December 2003    Countercurrents

The All-Star Game
Marshall Allen/Hamid Drake/Kidd Jordan/William Parker/Alan Silva

All-star games in professional sports are generally inconsequential, run-and-gun affairs and quite contrary to the spiritual urgency of free jazz. Featuring a line-up worthy of the name, The All-Star Game (Eremite) manages to split the difference between...


December 2003    Countercurrents

Globe Unity Orchestra 2002
Globe Unity Orchestra

Under the direction of pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach, Globe Unity Orchestra brought together the heaviest hitters in European free improvisation on a regular basis from 1966 to 1986. Though it was the group's first performance after a hiatus of more...


December 2003    Countercurrents

We Don't
Jemeel Moondoc/Denis Charles

Anyone who thinks there are no second acts in creative music should consider the comeback of Denis Charles, whose raw thrilling introduction to the 1960 Cecil Taylor classic "Air" merits inclusion in any survey of jazz drumming. After years off the scene...


December 2003    Countercurrents

The Other Shore

Trumpeter Roy Campbell first surfaced in saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc's Ensemble Muntu in the late '70s but took nearly two decades to start receiving his due. His robust sound and keen improvisational abilities are all over Exuberance's debut The Other Shore...

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About Bill Shoemaker