in performance: jeb bishop/tim daisy duo

jeb bishop.

It began with the ring of a hand held cymbal, a solitary tone one might associate with a spiritual ceremony. While one could find a contemplative, though complex aura in the sounds that followed, this greeting served as a lone preamble to a novel musical conversation – one devoted almost exclusively to trombone and percussion.

Piloting this latest presentation of the Outside the Spotlight Series last night at the new Mecca studio on Manchester St. were Chicago improvisers Jeb Bishop and Tim Daisy. Both are veterans of numerous OTS ensemble performances over the past decade. But this hour-long performance – the first concert on a five city tour – dispensed with all other band support and had the players conversing on their own over the course of two extended, untitled improvisational pieces.

The first largely left trombonist Bishop in the driver’s seat to create shards of bop and blues (among many other stylistic fragments) that flirted with melodies as the music gradually built to a boil. Bishop also briefly broke away from trombone to color the piece with the deeper tone of a 19th century baritone horn – a concise variation of the euphonium with an even brighter sound. 

tim daisy

Drummer Daisy busily stirred the pot under the brass with fluid rumbles of rhythm punctuated by the occasional percussive crack that kept the music from becoming even remotely passive. While grooves occasionally surfaced in his playing, Daisy’s propulsive drive didn’t call attention to itself. Instead, he moved the piece with gradual but strikingly textured invention.

The second improv sent the music – initially, at least – into space. Bishop used a hand held electronic device to creative coarser, theramin-like soundscapes. Daisy responded with jagged effects created by chains, gongs, brushes and cymbals placed on drum heads. Once Bishop returned to trombone, the music formed more circular rhythmic patterns briefly held in place by Daisy’s hand slaps on the hi-hat.

Asserting the complete nature of the performance, both improvs quietly deflated upon completion, diminishing to a solemn hush that brought the interplay – and the audience – safely back home.

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