Akjai is an improvising quartet incorporating two vocalists and a string trio. The group’s unique instrumentation lends itself to exploration of strange timbres, textures, and orchestrations. This recording documents a first meeting in which they explore musical worlds ranging from 20th century classical music, to art song, to free jazz, with text by Brianna Tong, Octavia Butler, and RA Washington. Akjai is slated for release in November on Amalgam.
Chi Away will comprise recordings of three separate small ensembles made over the course of a few months, culminating in a series of album releases on the Chicago record label Amalgam. The project was awarded the New Music USA Creator Development fund in 2021.
The groups are new collaborations, made up of musicians from the Chicago area. The assemblies include musicians from a wide array of musical backgrounds, ranging from classical to jazz to country to experimental to punk. Included in the fray are Ishmael Ali, Allen Moore, Bill Harris, N.W. Long, Wills McKenna, Brianna Tong, Johanna Brock, and Andrew Scott Young.
Thematically, the goal of the project as a whole is catharsis—reflecting on our individual experiences as well as the role of community during the past year in isolation. The music will simultaneously embody release, reflection, beginning.
Brianna Tong – vocals
Johanna Brock – vocals, violin
Ishmael Ali – cello
Andrew Scott Young – double bass
Recording live at Marmalade, Chicago, on May 29, 2021 by Ishmael Ali and Bill Harris.
Mixing and mastering by Ishmael Ali and Bill Harris.
Artwork by Jordan Martins.
Words by Brianna Tong, R.A. Washington, and Octavia Butler.
This project was supported by New Music USA's Creator Development Fund in 2021.