A multi-instrumentalist, composer and improviser, Ben Zucker shines bright on this debut as leader where his experimental vision is fleshed out with several of Chicago’s finest improvisers who breathe new life into Zucker compositions that date back to 2014.
The album leads with “Sussurigation A”, where acrobatic vibraphone from Zucker and frisky percussion from Adam Shead contribute to the flowing jazz climate, and this continues to the piano friendly “Fifth Season: I”, where low bass from Eli Namay and moments of bare beauty make an immediate impression.
Elsewhere, “Fifth Season: III” benefits greatly from space and exploration as the players interact dynamically with much precision, while “Fifth Season IV” is ten minutes of unpredictable and exciting instrumentation that’s both stripped back and busy and never short on creativity.
The album finishes with “Sussurigation B”, one of the most exciting selections that flirts with chamber music, and “Sixth Skin Pataforming” exits with a bit of tension and a darker quality with a cinematic appeal that leaves an indelible mark.
Certainly an album worth seeking out if you’re a fan of improvisational jazz, Zucker and company put a very artistic touch on the listen that defies classification, transcends time and fascinates from beginning to end.
Reviewed by Take Effect
Fifth Season is the bandleader debut of multi-instrumentalist composer and improviser Ben Zucker. Ben’s music combines various experimental forms and styles, rooted in active collaboration and the sensuous experience of performing. By using long-form prose descriptions of gestures and textures, the music of Fifth Season is guided yet open-ended, and content is constantly made anew in the moment. For this album, some of Chicago’s most interesting up-and-coming improvisers went into the studio to realize a recording of these compositions. Released on the artist-run collective Amalgam Records, the album is a document of careful communication and exploration.
Reviewed by Jazz Iz
Fifth Season is the bandleader debut of multi-instrumentalist composer and improviser Ben Zucker. Currently based in Chicago, Ben's music draws upon a varied practice combining experimental forms and styles, the product of studies and collaborations across North America and the UK. Ultimately, his concerns as a music maker are about experience, and how we come to understand the world as it unfolds in real time and place ourselves in it in new yet responsible (response-able) ways.
The music of Fifth Season, in particular, enables active collaboration and creativity through setting up improvised contexts via narrative text. By using long-form prose descriptions of gestures and textures, the forms of the music are guided yet open-ended, and content is constantly made anew in the moment. It has allowed the music to come to life in many different ways in the hands of various performers, who are able to bring their vocabularies to the fore and merge it with the "notation".
For this album, some of Chicago's most interesting up-and-coming improvisers went into the studio to realize a recording of old and new compositions, after performing the material throughout venues for experimental and creative music. Adam Shead (John Dikeman, Jason Stein, leader of the Adiaphora Orchestra), Eli Namay (Jer'af, Phil Sudderberg, Gilded Records), and Mabel Kwan (Ensemble Dal Niente, Deerhoof, Restroy) likewise represent a wide range of the city's strong communities of new music. Set for release on the artist-run collective Amalgam Records, the album is a document of careful communication and exploration.
Ben Zucker - Vibraphone
Mabel Kwan - Piano
Eli Namay - Upright bass
Adam Shead - Drums
Recorded and mixed by Nick Broste at the Shape Shoppe, Chicago, on July 23, 2019.
Mastered by Bill Harris.
Artwork by Ana María Bermúdez.