Cancel Rescue Mission [TB#2.6] | November 2023, Chicago & Midwest

Jazz at its peril, with its balancing acts and magic tricks, between the expanses that are crisscrossed and the depths that are explored. Music for surveyors and speleologists, no doubt, music for vulcanologists. Quentin Biardeau and Etienne Ziemniak on one side, Corey Wilkes and Justin Dillard on the other, have attended the best schools: those they have given themselves and where everything is allowed. As well as artist collectives that have taken over what used to be called “a scene”: the TriCollectif in Orleans or the CapsulCollectif in Tours, the AACM in Chicago. They can be very respectful (they know their history, from Guillaume de Machaut to Ornette Coleman, and from nu soul to Malagasy Tsapiky), they can be very irreverent (they forbid themselves). They take malicious pleasure, following the trail of powder. Expect a few outbreaks.

November 2, Retreat at Rebuild Foundation & Improvised Music Series at Elastic Arts. We’ve had time to walk up the Chicago River and celebrate Dia de Los Muertos and Samain, all the cultures in the world’s kaleidoscope, when Tatsuya Nakatani’s imprescriptible gongs and cymbals ring out at the top of the elastic stairs. This is followed by patient exchanges, patient spinning, spinning between Tatsuya and Tatsu Aoki on double bass and shamisen, and two of the four members of Cancel Rescue Mission: Justin Dillard and Étienne Ziemniak. At almost the same time, the other two, Quentin Biardeau and Corey Wilkes, are on the South Side, at Retreat (ex-Currency Exchange Café), ringing in dreams for friends and family.

November 3, Audio for the Arts in Madison. At the invitation of our friends at BlueStem Jazz, Cancel Rescue Mission is finally back together, the four cardinal directions and a few others (let’s say the cycles of nature in their physical, psychological, energetic and spiritual aspects). In this cavernous studio or dragon’s lair, all the reflexes are there too: time suspended, embers stirred, exits and accesses, fever and light again.

November 4, Spurlock Museum, Urbana. Here, at the invitation of Improvisers Exchange and Nick Rudd Music Experience, CRM (formerly also known as OFM: Oysters for the Masters) builds its own launch pad, step by step. There’s soul, ambient and noise; there are mystery cults, battlements and lamplighters (formerly also known as falotiers), because there’s public and plural lighting between saxophone, trumpet, keyboards, drums and all the voices.

November 5, Woodland Pattern Book Center, Milwaukee. Here, at the invitation of the Alternating Currents Live series, CRM first plays the fish of the abyss, those of the deep, those who use bioluminescence to make something glow in the darkness. This something, after a series of successive eruptions, rising to the surface of the water, of things, of worlds, will take on the proportions of a volcanic island of which the musicians will be the first inhabitants. Literally leaping, jumping and exploding with joy. Ashé! exclaims Corey Wilkes for Fred Anderson, for Harrison Bankhead (whose voice, sampled, was already added to Jacques Brel’s in Madison).

November 7, The Promontory. Maybe the soul food of Oooh Wee It Is helped, maybe it was Fred Jackson, Jr.’s sci-fi project Where’s Charlie? in the opening act (with Daniel Van Duern on piano and electronics, Ishmael Ali on cello and electronics, Jonathan Woods on videos). In any case, Cancel Rescue Mission leaves nothing to chance this evening: the sequence is a rampage, and the audience shouts out the musicians’ names. The proximity of hammering forges and flapping wings is captivating.

November 8, Relax Attack Series at The Whistler. “Everything is spirit”, a Choctaw and Navajo Indian told us in the afternoon at the American Indian Center. Spirits soon warmed in the room, the Scarlet Cube, where Keefe Jackson (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet), Xris Esp (tenor saxophone, flute, percussion), Jeb Bishop (trombone), Tim Stine (guitar) and Bernard Santacruz (double bass) are Queen B. and Z.’s fellow travelers. They’re the ones who gobble up the road, lace up the straights and make a collection of curves together.

November 6, Comfort Music. Sure, the Chicago Bulls beat the Utah Jazz that night, 130 to 113. But wonderfully instead, there were the visions of María de los Remedios Alicia y Rodriga Varo y Uranga (aka Remedios Varo), at the Art Institute. Alchemy, love, archaeology, architecture and more. The strange diapason between Françoise Dô, the playwright in residence in Chicago, and Keefe Jackson at Comfort Station. And again on November 9, Dô is at the Epiphany Center for the Arts, thanks to Fulcrum Point New Music, this time with Quentin B., Corey W., Étienne Z., as well as Angelo Hart on piano and Marion Mallard on double bass. Map upon map, in disarming harmony, the narrative and musical arc is a map of Tendre, from the town of Nouvelle-Amitié to the town of Tendre.

November 10, Constellation. Opening for Cancel Rescue Mission was the deceptively new trio of Jim Baker, Bernard Santacruz and Michael Zerrang. What better way to celebrate The Bridge’s 10th anniversary, musically and discreetly. Because a decade ago, on February 23, 2013, Jim Baker was one of Tortoise’s North American or French guests, for the launch of the network, as part of the Sons d’hiver festival in the Paris region. After that, he played and recorded with Bernard Santacruz and Samuel Silvant. And going back in time, Santacruz had played and recorded with Jeff Parker (Tortoise’s guitarist, among others) and Michael Zerang, in the Vega trio. A network, networks. Networks of underground galleries between continents, between eras, between people who meet and a sweet music rises in their hearts. Like that Friday evening, between Quentin Biardeau, Corey Wilkes, Justin Dillard and Étienne Ziemniak, producing in abundance and beauty living animals, firebirds and flying fish. There was an evening, and there was a morning, noises and rhythms: it was the fifth day.

November 11, Pro Musica. This is the second time in two days that Quentin Biardeau and Étienne Ziemniak have entered Ken Christianson’s music room. The day before, unexpectedly as a duo, they recorded some uprisings of the earth. Today, as a quartet with Corey Wilkes and Justin Dillard, they continue to blaze and discover rocky promontories and lost valleys, in bewilderment or rapture.

November 11, Theatre Y. Later that evening, the saxophonist, keyboardist and drummer move on to the West Side, where a community of activists and artists have taken it upon themselves to change the game. After Allen Moore’s reconstructivist telescopings on the turntables, they accompany poets Françoise Dô and Marvin Tate (and are in turn accompanied by the unplanned Bill Evans, whose piano is heard long after the concert begins). This is Veteran’s Day from All Sides, stories of families haunted by what they are, what they are not, what they are made to be… Everyone on the roof of the world, where Marvin has planted his flag.

November 12, Logan Center for the Arts. The view is breathtaking, of course, from a penthouse upstairs, in the air, above the Midway Plaisance greenway. It was here, in 1893, that the 400th anniversary of the so-called “discovery” of America was held – the World’s Columbus Exposition, with the inevitable reproduction of an authentic African village and its dancers in “Dahomean” costumes performing to a background of drums, bells and songs… Nevertheless, musicians from all over the country were able to meet without paraphernalia in the café-concerts that marked the event: pianist and composer Scott Joplin, baritone Harry Burleigh (who inspired Dvořák to write his New World Symphony), violinist Joseph Douglass (son of abolitionist Frederick Douglass)…Drums, bells and songs, or ragtime, spirituals and sonatas then, or soul, funk and free now, 130 years later, when Cancel Rescue Mission brings a vast panorama of Great Black Music back to the towers: nothing is ever the same, everything combines and transforms.

November 12, Hungry Brain. After the harsh, granular trio of Josh Berman, Jason Roebke and Tim Daisy, Quentin Biardeau finds in Ed Wilkerson, Jr. another magic mountain, and Étienne Ziemniak finds in Jason Adasiewicz another cataract of rhythms. The sacred geography of music invented collectively. Columns or double basses of Hercules: Bernard Santacruz from Vaucluse and Jakob Heinemann from Wisconsin. A tornado of pure and impure happiness forms in the bar or club where the sun goes down.

November 13, Magnifico Coffee Roasters. Everything combines, everything transforms, and everything should be possible. For his birthday, Étienne Ziemniak chose to play in the local coffee shop he’s been frequenting for the past fortnight, with le démon de midi, aka Quentin Biardeau. The coffee comes from Colombia, the roasting is done on the spot, the beans and the sounds.

November 14, Blue Lake, Michigan. On the way to Detroit, in Blue Lake Public Radio’s large, almost dance studio, in the middle of the woods, for the “Live From Blue Lake” program (WBLV 90.3 Muskegon or WBLU 88.9 Grand Rapids), Cancel Rescue Mission alternates between speaking and playing, always uncompromising, always with facetious determination.

November 15, Trinosophes Project, Detroit. After wandering through the endless time or end of time of the Heidelberg Project, a deserted neighborhood repopulated with all the relics of popular life by Tyree Guyton, one of its penultimate inhabitants, Quentin Biardeau, Corey Wilkes, Justin Dillard and Étienne Ziemniak converge on another “project”, another form of resistance to Detroit’s gentrification: the Trinosophes café, gallery, publishing house, label and record store. After the wanderings and frolics of the Agape Trio of Alex Harding (baritone sax), Joel Peterson (double bass) and David Hurley (drums), the quartet delivers its last performance until further notice, with a density and fluidity that are now beyond reproach.

And then there were all the encounters on the fringe. Full margin. Full heart. With students from Curie Metropolitan High School, high school students from ChiArts (Chicago High School for the Arts), students from Travis Jackson’s class at the University of Chicago or Will Faber’s class at the School of the Art Institute, Old Town enthusiasts, etc…

And there were still other encounters, probing the Sun Ra archives at the Experimental Sound Studio, with Ronnie Preston and Dave Spencer at the American Indian Center, with Tatsu Aoki and Hitomi Oba at the Asian Improv aRts MidwestCenter where Quentin Biardeau even got to play Fred Anderson’s tenor saxophone… Different times, same habits.