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Ballister: Mechanisms

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The members of Ballister are all prolific musicians who are well acquainted with each other, personally and musically. Cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and saxophonist Dave Rempis both reside in the fertile Chicago improvisation scene and have shared the stage in the Vandermark 5. Drummer Paal Nilssen-Love hails from Norway, but he could be considered an honorary Chicagoan, having played with numerous musicians there.

The rapport between these three gives the music a forward direction that can be felt in the opening minutes of the first track, “Release Levers.” It begins with some frenzied alto and splattering drums, with Lonberg-Holm entering with a drone. Throughout the nearly 20-minute piece, the group constantly shapes and reshapes their sound. Most tellingly, they let the free blowing reach a climax three minutes in and quickly pull back toward a more pensive mood. In the final minutes they rock hard, with a junkyard cello and barbed alto going wild over a beat that could have come from a Led Zeppelin song. This is free improv with depth.

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