Khoury/Tawil/Zerang // Brown/Stein/Abrams/Drake
Ari Brown - saxophone
Jason Stein - bass clarinet
Joshua Abrams - contrabass
Hamid Drake - drums, percussion
Mike Khoury - violin
Leyya Mona Tawil - dance
Michael Zerang - percussion
Ari Brown began his professional career around 1965, performing with soul, rock and blues bands throughout Chicago, Wisconsin, and Michigan, where he performed with such vocalists and vocal groups as Gene Chandler, the Chi-Lites, B.B. King, Lou Rawls, Four Tops, and the Emotions.
In 1968, Mr. Brown received a bachelor's degree in Music Education from the Vandercook School of Music in Chicago. Upon completion of his formal studies he continued performing with jazz and R&B bands in Chicago, the Midwest, and on the East Coast, performing with such artists Muhal Richard Abrams, the Awakening, Chuck Berry, the Dells, Billy Eckstine, the Emotions, the Four Tops, Walter Jackson, Della Reese, and Sonny Stitt.
1974 found Ari able to make use of his educational experience beginning with his association with the Chicago Public Schools system as an elementary and high school teacher. His teaching experience also includes positions at Columbia College, Chicago (saxophone instructor), Urban Gateways, Chicago, (teaching, lecturing and performance), Chicago Conservatory of Music, (saxophone instructor), Olive-Harvey College, Chicago (music fundamentals), Jazz Institute Mentoring Program, Chicago (teaching, the art of improvisation), and University Of Illinois at Chicago (saxophone instructor).
Since 1979, Mr. Brown has been able to pursue his passion (musically) by performing almost exclusively in the Jazz idiom. His performances throughout Chicago, and the USA, Africa, Asia, Brazil, Canada, the Caribbean, and Europe, have been with his own working band, the Ari Brown Quintet, and include The AACM Experimental Orchestra, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, the Ritual Trio, Hamiett Bluitt, Lester Bowie, Anthony Braxton, Donald Byrd, Ken Chaney, Kahil El Zabar, Jon Faddis, Malachi Favors, Von Freeman, Elvin Jones, Roscoe Mitchell, Famoudou Don Moye, David Murray, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, Stop-Time Orchestra, McCoy Tyner, Val Gray Ward, Edward Wilkerson, and Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra with Orbert Davis.
Additionally, Ari has made several appearances at major venues including: Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago (solo), Smithsonian Institute, Steppenwolf Theatre, Jazz at the Symphony Center (Chicago), Detroit Orchestra Hall, Village Vanguard, Blue Note (NYC) Newport Jazz Festival, Dakota’s Bar and Grill (Minneapolis), Jazz Alley (Seattle), Yoshi’s (Oakland), Chicago Jazz and Blues Festivals, Millennium Park Jazz Series, North Sea Festival (The Hague, Netherlands), numerous European festivals, and The Jazz Showcase (Chicago). He also has made two cameo film appearances, a clarinet solo in The Babe, starring John Goodman, and a saxophone solo in The Visitors, starring Christina Applegate.
Ari Brown has been recognized for his musical achievements by receiving numerous awards throughout his career, including four National Endowment of the Arts Awards, NIAA Certified Gold Record, for the album Flowers, recorded by the Emotions, Columbia Records, ©1974, Inner City Grant, Chicago Council on Fine Arts, 2002 recipient of the Alyo Award, Muntu Dance Company, the National Arts Initiative Chicago Legends of Jazz Award in 2008 for his outstanding contributions to the Great Legacy of Jazz in Chicago, and, most recently, the 28th Annual Chicago Music Awards Best Jazz Entertainer, 2009. Additionally, he was commissioned to write music for Foday Musa Suso and the Kronos String Quartet. His professional associations include Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), and Phi Mu Alpha Symphonia.
Jason Stein is among the mere handful of improvisers who play the bass clarinet exclusively. Stein leads the acclaimed trio Locksmith Isidore as well as his own quartet. He contributes to several of the leading bands on Chicago’s new-music scene and has brought a vital voice to the freest of free-jazz jams. Stein’s playing showcases an extraordinary expertise on the bass clarinet, which ranges from powerful post-bop lines to ear-grabbing wails in the altissimo range. Chicago writer Neil Tesser notes that “Stein’s playing has a rawboned swagger particular to Chicago jazz in all its manifestations – from the trad playing of Bud Freeman and Jimmy McPartland in the 20s, through the tenor titans of the 50s, through the adventurers who formed the AACM in the 60s, and right up to the city’s renowned modern cadre of new-music improvisers.” Stein moved to Chicago in 2005 and has since recorded for such labels as Leo, Delmark, Not Two, Atavistic, 482 Music, Clean Feed, Astral Spirits, and Northern Spy. Stein has performed throughout the US and Europe as both a bandleader and sideman and has amassed a discography of over 40 albums.
Joshua Abrams is a composer, bassist, and improviser. His early formative musical experiences include performing in a chamber group conducted by Earle Brown, and busking on the streets of Philadelphia as an original member of The Roots. Since the mid-1990s, Abrams has been a key figure in Chicago's creative music communities and an international touring musician with artists across genres. In 2010, Abrams formed the project Natural Information Society (NIS), a group that creates long-form psychedelic environments that join the hypnotic qualities of the guimbri, a Gnawan lute, to a wide range of contemporary musics and methodologies including jazz, minimalism, and experimental rock.
Abrams has toured internationally with Natural Information Society, including performances at Endless Shout, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Festival International de Music Actuelle de Victoriaville (Vico), Canada; Fylkingen, Stockholm, Sweden; Guelph Jazz Festival, Canada; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Pritzker Pavillion, Millennium Park, Chicago; Sant'anna Arresi Jazz Festival, Sardina, Italy; Serralves em Festa, Serralves Museum, Portugal; Stanser Musiktage Festival, Stans, Switzerland; Teatro Maria Matos, Lisbon, Portugal; and Kaleidophon Festival, Ulrichsberg, Austria. Natural Information Society's recorded works include Simultonality (eremite, 2017); Magnetoception (eremite, 2015); Represencing (eremite, 2012); Natural Information (eremite, 2010); and Cipher (Delmark, 2003).
Abrams has scored numerous feature films, including The Trials of Muhammad Ali (2013), and several projects with award-winning director Steve James: the films Abacus: Small Enough To Jail (2017), Life Itself (2014), The Interrupters (2011); and the documentary series America To Me (2018). Abrams' collaborations with visual artists include sound projects and exhibitions with Lisa Alvarado, Theaster Gates, and Simon Starling.
Abrams has appeared on over 100 recordings, including those by Fred Anderson, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, David Boykin, Hamid Drake, Neil Michael Hagerty, Nicole Mitchell, Roscoe Mitchell, Mike Reed, Matana Roberts, The Roots, and Town and Country. His performances include work with The Fred Anderson Trio, Sean Bergin, Ari Brown, Earle Brown, Peter Brötzmann, Rhys Chatham, Gerald Cleaver, Tony Conrad, Toumani Diabaté, Bill Dixon, Axel Dörner, Von Freeman, Jandek, Kidd Jordan, Oliver Lake, Joe McPhee, Joe Morris, Evan Parker, Jeff Parker, William Parker, Ballaké Sissoko, Damo Suzuki, Craig Taborn, Chad Taylor, and Kurt Vonnegut. He was an artist in residence at Fred Anderson Park (2017) and at The Hideout (2016), both in Chicago. Abrams was awarded the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists award (2018).
This brilliant, sensitive, endlessly rhythmic,intelligent, spiritual, and powerful drummer /percussionist from Chicago was born in 1955 in Monroe, Louisiana, and his family moved to Evanston, Illinois when he was a child, just as an older musician from Monroe named Fred Anderson also moved to Evanston with his own family and started out playing with local rock and R&B bands, which eventually brought him to the great Fred Anderson’s attention, with whom he has worked intesively from 1974 to 2010 when Fred left us..including Anderson’s 1979 The Missing Link. Through workshops Fred Anderson was giving, young Hamid first got to know Douglas Ewart,George Lewis, and other members of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). Another of the most significant percussion influences, Ed Blackwell dates from this period. Hamid’s flowing rhythmic expressions and interest in the roots of the music drew other like~minded musicians together into a performance and educational collective named the Mandingo Griot Society, which combined traditional African music and narrative with distinctly American influences appearing on the group’s first album, and has played reggae. Don Cherry, who Drake first met in 1978, was another continuing collaborator, he worked extensively with him from 1978 until Cherry’s death in 1995. After meeting Don Cherry, Hamid Drake and fellow percussionist Adam Rudolph travelled with Don to Europe, where they spent much time exploring the interior landscape of percussion, while working nonstop to share deeply in Mr. Cherry’s grasp of music’s spiritually infinite transformational possibilities. Hamid Drake studied drums extensively, including eastern and Caribbean styles, he also frequently plays without sticks, using his hands to develop subtly commanding undertones. His tabla playing is also notable for his subtlety and flair. Drake’s questing nature and his interest in Caribbean percussion led to a deep involvement with reggae. Now touring and recording all over the world, and in constant demand everywhere, Hamid Drake has played and / or recorded with Fred Anderson, Peter Brötzmann, Don Cherry, Marilyn Crispell, Pierre Dorge, Johnny Dyani, Hassan Hakmoun, Herbie Hancock, Joseph Jarman, George Lewis, bassist William Parker (in a large number of lineups), and has performed a solstice celebration with fellow Chicago percussionist Michael Zerang annually since 1991, ARchie Shepp, David Murray, Sabir Mateen, Joe McPhee, Jim Pepper, Dewey Redman, Adam Rudolph, Pharoah Sanders, Foday Musa Suso, John Tchicai, and almost all the members of the AACM. He has also maintained his ties to world music through work with Foday Musa Suso and many others. With these diverse artists, playing in a broad range of musical settings, Drake comfortably adapts to north and west African and Indian impulses as well as reggae and Latin. More and more, though he’s engaded as sideman, he’s devoting his energies and creatiivity as band leader and co-leader focusing on his own groups and projects such as Bindu and the Indigo Trio (with Nicole Mitchell and Harrison Bankhead), the duet with the italian vibraphone player Pasquale Mirra, as duet also with Iva Bittova, Paolo Angeli, Michel Portal.
Palestinian-American musician Mike Khoury (1969) was raised in Mt. Pleasant, MI. He studied violin in the local school systems with instructors Kerry Goodwin and Nancy Smith. During his formative years, Khoury also played electric bass in several rock groups. Exposure to the visual arts, especially abstract expressionism, played a large role in Khoury's early years. An interest in alternative tunings and the desire to create sonically intense music reflective of his ethnic background and interest in psychedelia led Khoury to the Urban Farmers. With multiple shows under their belt, the all instrumental trio issued one full length CD and had several of their pieces issued on various compilations. Khoury was one part of the proprietorship that was Uprising Records with childhood friend and musician Greg Marten. Uprising Records issued records by many notable groups of the era.
Leyya Mona Tawil
Leyya Mona Tawil, also known as Lime Rickey International, is an artist working with dance, sound and performance art practices. Leyya is a Syrian, Palestinian, American engaged in the world as such. Her 23-year record of compositions and performance scores have toured throughout the US, Europe and the Arab world. Major projects include performance duo with Mike Khoury (Tawil & Khoury) and Destroy// All Places, in its 7th year of touring. Lime Rickey International’s Future Faith was recently nominated for a 2019 The New York Dance and Performance Awards/ The Bessies (Music). Tawil is the director of DANCE ELIXIR and Arab.AMP.
Michael Zerang was born in Chicago, Illinois and is a first generation American of Assyrian decent. He has been an active musician, composer, and producer since 1976, focusing extensively on improvised music, free jazz, contemporary composition, puppet theater, experimental theater, and international musical forms. He has been a long-standing member of The Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet, Friction Brothers, Brötzmann/ McPhee/ Kessler/ Zerang Quartet, and Survival Unit III with Joe McPhee and Fred Lonberg-Holm. He has collaborated extensively with contemporary theater, dance, and other multidisciplinary forms and has received three Joseph Jefferson Awards for Original Music Composition in Theater, in 1996, 1998, and 2000. He has over one-hundred titles in his discography and has toured nationally and internationally to 34 countries since 1981 with and ever-widening pool of collaborators. He was the artistic director of the Link's Hall Performance Series from 1985-1989 where he produced over 300 concerts of jazz, traditional ethnic folk music, electronic music, and other forms of forward thinking music. He continued to produce concerts at Cafe Urbus Orbis from 1994-1996, and at his own space, The Candlestick Maker in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood, from 2001 - 2005.