June 1st, 2006
Free improvisation may be one of the most difficult types of music to adequately capture on record. It seems to rely more heavily upon the intangible energies that emerge between performers and their audience, energies that don’t often cross the mediated divide between stage and Ipod. Though I had listened to greats such as Ornette Coleman on CD and attended shows by lesser players at lesser venues, I didn’t truly understand the power and beauty of free jazz until I visited the friendly confines of Fred Anderson’s Velvet Lounge. Recently closed—though hopefully soon to reopen in a new location—this legendary Southside venue hosted numerous improvisers and served as a focal point for Chicago jazz.
Thankfully, Delmark had the foresight to document a recent evening at the Velvet Lounge, featuring the master tenor sax player Anderson with esteemed bassist and drummer Harrison Bankhead and Hamid Drake. Shot in video and superbly mic’ed in 5.1 surround sound, Timeless is a virtual reality trip to the heart of Chicago’s improvised music scene. Capturing an original AACM member at work with two protégés-turned-masters, along with the funky wallpaper and behind-the-bar knickknacks of the Velvet, this DVD presents timeless music in its time and place. It will surely be appreciated by generations to come. (Also issued as audio CD)
Posted by Mack Hagood
Review Genre(s): Jazz