Gordon Grdina from Vancouver finds his middle ground between jazz and Arabic music

Vancouver’s versatile guitarist Gordon grdina is coming back to Chicago this week for a few gigs, and I suspect they’ll sum up the lineup well delivered on the recordings he’s made over the past few years, where a love and investment in Arabic music has lifted and widened his chops. already wide jazz. When I surprised Grdina at the Hideout in September 2009, with drummer Kenton Loewen, sub-bassist Kent Kessler and trombonist Jeb Bishop, he was already absorbed in the Arabic sound, playing almost as much oud as guitar. . Last year Grdina released the awesome Her eyes light up (Songlines) with his ten-piece ensemble, Haram, convincingly demonstrating how he had reconciled his vision of free jazz with traditional Arab music. After the jump, you can check out the album’s opening track, “Raqs al Jamal”.

While I admire Grdina’s ambition with Haram, I think I still prefer her small group work, and this aspect of her music has never sounded better than on the brand new. No difference (released Tuesday by Songlines), which is cobbled to Grdina and the muscular New York bassist Marc Helias. A number of tracks also include Loewen and the great New York saxophonist. Tony malaby, a regular cohort of the bassist of the Open Loose trio. The powerful opener of the album, “Hope in Being”, is one of the many magnificent duets between Grdina, here at the oud, and Helias, marked by an astonishing interactivity which transcends all tradition even if the music cannot help itself. to evoke the sound of jazz and Arab traditions. Other performances include all four musicians including the jazz “The Throes” where the guitarist gives a James Blood Ulmer touch to his playing. You can check out the track below. On Sunday, Grdina and Loewen will play a duet at the Hungry Brain.


Next Thursday at Elastic, he will perform with his longtime trio, which includes Loewen and bassist Tommy Babin, who has never performed with the band in Chicago before. It’s also been a few years since this combo released any records, but Barrel fire (Drip Audio), from 2010, captures unity in its most visceral, loud and intense aspect. The album is taken from a 2009 concert the group gave at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival with a fire-breathing Swedish reedist. Mats Gustafsson. Grdina composed four of the album’s five tracks (the fifth is a traditional Iraqi song), and though each twists to tightly coiled, high-velocity themes, these performances are marked by fiery spontaneity and group interaction. loaded, each musician pushing and coaxing the other towards more extreme gestures. Grdina’s tone and attack veered here and there into rock territory, as he unleashed sharp, warped lines summoning the minds of Sonny Sharrock, John McLaughlin and Thurston Moore over shattered bulldozer grooves. “En Shakoota”, the Iraqi piece, allows five minutes of calm and measured contemplation, with Grdina moving to oud and the others seated, before the rhythm section returns with a quick practice and Gustafsson with his split high register sounds.

Today’s playlist:

Various artists, Subway Salsa: The History of Montuno Records (Vampire soul)
Jérôme Sabbagh, Plugged (Bee Jazz)
Marion Brun, Memories of Geechee / Sweet Earth Flying (Impulse)
Babe, A Rocanrol Pokito (Latin Capitol)
Marilyn Crispell, Mark Dresser and Gerry Hemingway, Play Braxton (Tzaddik)

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