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Kent Kessler

Kent Kessler

“Bull fiddle is what my grandpa called the bass,” Kent Kessler says, explaining the title of his mostly solo OkkaDisk CD, which, given his pivotal role in Chicago’s widely acclaimed creative music scene, has the jump on Overdue Debut Album of the Year honors. “He was a Kentucky Hoosier who moved to Indiana and called square dances and stuff. I have a real connection with roots music, so I wanted to convey that at some level this music is no different than hillbilly music.”

The bassist’s rural heritage is one reason he was influenced early on by Charlie Haden, a connection Kessler commemorates on “Out Of Iowa,” one of several contemplative, theme-driven pieces on the CD. Yet the bulk of Bull Fiddle is comprised of envelope-pushing music, particularly several tracks built upon riveting arco textures. These facets of Kessler’s playing complement his well-documented, high-voltage approach with groups like Hal Russell’s NRG Ensemble, DKV Trio and Vandermark 5 (whose Airports for Light is out now on Atavistic).

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