When speaking of jazz cities, New York and New Orleans are the ones that immediately come to mind, however, Chicago also deserves a shout. The city is no stranger to jazz creativity, being the home of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and having a scene which honed the chops of talented modern jazz names such as Tomeka Reid, Jaimie Branch and Matana Roberts. Drummer Quin Kirchner, a Chi-Town native, proves to be another quality example of the Chicago scene in his debut record, The Other Side of Time. The bandleader is an integral part of his skillful quintet made up of Nick Broste (trombone), Nate Lepine (tenor saxophone, flute), Jason Stein (bass clarinet) and Matt Ulery (bass).
The album is a double LP showcase for high quality exploratory post-bop, with Kirchner’s choice in percussion at times having a notable influence from African and Eastern music. The two entirely percussion focused pieces, “Drums & Tines”, feature the drum kit’s tight rhythms surrounded by a mesmerizing wall of kalimba and other percussion. Throughout the record, the drummer’s adventurous originals form an engrossing journey alongside compositions from legends like Charles Mingus, Sun Ra and Andrew Hill.
Early on in the record, “Brainville” (Sun Ra) lets the listener know that, although it isn’t a focus of the record, this band can swing. Stein, who is given the spotlight first, delivers a great solo as the rest of the band accompany his bass clarinet with the tune’s catchy rising motif. For some, the interpretation of “Brainville” and even more notably “Self-Portrait In Three Colors” (Mingus) may be a bit too faithful to the originals, but with how good these players sound together, it’s extremely hard to hold that against them. The upbeat “Brainville” is an album highlight, but the quintet is arguably at its best when the compositions are a bit darker, the Kirchner original “Wondrous Eyes” being a formidable example. The track opens up with gorgeous dark harmonies from the horns which eventually shift to short, languidly repeated stabs of notes before the beautiful melancholy tone of Broste’s trombone takes center stage.
Although Kirchner is often a modest leader, the ensemble shines whenever he turns up the intensity – which he does brilliantly near the end of “Wondrous Eyes”. Kirchner’s playing explodes with energy in the last portion of the band’s impressive take of “Armageddon” (Kelan Phil Cohran), which features the drummer playing with a solo-like fury as the improvisation from the horns becomes increasingly more angular and abrasive. The band proves that it can deliver the opposite of the freer energy of “Armageddon” on the serene “Together We Can Explore the Furthest Beyond”, which features fine playing from Ben Boye on piano and Lepine on flute. With a debut as good as this, it’s pretty safe to assume that there will be more great work from Kirchner in the future.
The Other Side of Time the debut album from drummer Quin Kirchner, is out now and can be purchased on bandcamp.
Quin Kirchner (drums, percussion, kalimba, sampler, wurlitzer)
Nick Broste (trombone),
Nate Lepine (tenor saxophone, flute),
Jason Stein (bass clarinet)
Matt Ulery (bass)
Ben Boye (piano on “Together We Can Explore the Furthest Beyond”)
Brian Kiwanuka is a writer‚ attorney and music nerd but not in that order. He digs Armand Hammer‚ Alice Coltrane and Stevie Wonder and occasionally subjects his friends to detailed rants about music. You can check out more of his writing on 93 Million Miles Above.