The one time I caught Fred Lonberg-Holm performing with the Vandermark 5 and during the very brief conversation I had with him afterwards at the merch table, he carried himself like a man who was contentedly at the mercy of his career. He had a cello style to match, too. If you want to stand out in Chicago’s underground jazz scene, that’s exactly what you have to do; stand out. Lonberg-Holm is unafraid of where his cello and effects arsenal will take him, no matter how unorthodox. The windy city underground collective Fast Citizens, of which Lonberg-Holm is a member, is notable for letting each member have a shot at the “leader” position. First it was tenor saxophonist Keefe Jackson’s turn, then alto saxman Aram Shelton’s. Gather finds the reins being handed to the cellist, writing a series of songs that let Shelton, Jackson, cornetist Josh Berman, bassist Anton Hatwich and drummer Frank Rosaly ride an irresistible groove (“Later News”), explore ballads with harmonic indigestion (“It’s A Tough Grid”), and generally screw around with tonality (“Lazy Days”). Throw in some free-jazz spaz outs and you have one punishingly great work. Just don’t expect to change people’s minds with it.
// Notes from the Road
"Philip Glass, the artistic director of the Tibet House benefits, celebrated his 80th birthday at this year's annual benefit with performances from Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Brittany Howard, Sufjan Stevens and more.READ the article