Warming things up

Happy to announce a few performances in the coming weeks, in Chicago, Madison, and Eau Claire:

· January 9, 2023, 6-8 pm Dan Thatcher Quartet, with Thatcher on bass, Tim Davis, drums, Jim Schram, saxophone, Phyllis’s Musical Inn, 1800 W Division St, Chicago

· February 4, 2023, 7-10 pm, Trio with Jeremy Boettcher on bass and Neil Hemphill on drums, The Lakely, 516 Galloway St, Eau Claire, WI **One of Chicago’s leading drummers, we’re thrilled to host Neil in Eau Claire for one show only!**

· February 8, 2023, Relax Attack with Pyrography Trio: Ben Dillinger on bass, Gustavo Cortiñas on drums, The Whistler, 2421 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago

· February 10, 2023, 8-10 pm, Pyrography again, Audio for the Arts, 7 S Blair St # 1, Madison, WI. Tickets are $15 and it’s BYOB!

Note that Michael Brenneis did a warm and sympathetic interview with me in support of the Madison show. Check it out here if you’re interested.

Hemphill performing at Chicago’s Jazz Showcase in 2019.

Fall Performances

With the Pyrography Trio (Ben Dillinger, bass, and Gustavo Cortiñas, drums)

· September 28, 2022 Cafe Mustache, 2313 N Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, IL

· October 22, 2022 The Lakely, at the Oxbow Hotel, 516 Galloway Street, Eau Claire, WI

· December 1, 2022 Merrimans’ Playhouse, 401 E. Colfax Ave., South Bend, IN

With the Mark Feldman/Paul Hecht Quartet (Mark Feldman, violin; Ethan Philion, bass; Quin Kirchner, drums)

· November 3, 2022 Merrimans’ Playhouse, 401 E. Colfax Ave., South Bend, IN

· November 18, 2022 Cafe CODA, 1224 Williamson St, Madison, WI

· November 20, 2022 The Hungry Brain, 2319 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL

Some other performances of note . . .

· September 13, 2022 in the house band for the Whitey’s jam with Graydon Peterson, bass, 400 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN

· September 24, 2022 in duo with John Christensen, bass, The Lakely, Oxbow Hotel, 516 Galloway St., Eau Claire, WI

· September 26, 2022 quartet at Phyllis’s Musical Inn with Daniel Thatcher, bass; Tim Davis, drums; and Jim Schram, tenor sax, 1800 W Division St, Chicago, IL

· October 13, 2022 duo with Jeremy Boettcher at 200 Main Art and Wine, 200 Main St., Eau Claire, WI

· November 5, 2022 trio with Jeremy Boettcher and Riley Johnson, The Lakely, Oxbow Hotel, 516 Galloway St., Eau Claire, WI

· November 28, 2022 quartet at Phyllis’s Musical Inn with Daniel Thatcher, bass; Tim Davis, drums; and Chad McCullough, trumpet, 1800 W Division St, Chicago, IL

· December 9, 2022, a reprise of Kenny Wheeler’s Angel Song, with Michael Hudson-Casanova, alto sax; James Davis, trumpet; Samuel Peters, bass; and Andy Danstrom, drums, Merrimans’ Playhouse, 401 E. Colfax Ave., South Bend, IN

Lots more on all of these in the coming weeks, but for now, mark your calendars and come by if you can!

What Rosalind Likes, shipping now

As of now, my book is shipping globally, and the price has improved a lot from initial previews. It’s even better with the 30% discount promo code below. Just don’t buy from Amazon—that site is not showing the real price for some reason.

Here’a link for the Oxford UP landing page for the U.S., and other countries can be easily accessed from the same place: https://bit.ly/3uS7cm7

And here is the promo code: AAFLYG6

The front cover of my book—not showing the surprise on the back!

Quartet with Mark Feldman, Madison, 28 May 22

Saturday, May 28, 7pm, Garver Feed Mill Patio, 3241 Garver Green, Madison, WI

This should be fun on many levels! Can’t wait to play with Neil and Emma and bring the extraordinary Mark Feldman for another Madison appearance. Plus the Garver Feed Mill is a lovely and delicious spot if you don’t know it, and a great place to relax on a Saturday evening now that the weather is good!

Quartet with Mark Feldman, violin; Emma Dayhuff, bass; Neil Hemphill, drums

Join the FB event here.

Info on tickets here.

Clockwise from PH: Mark Feldman, Neil Hemphill, and Emma Dayhuff.

Three originals at Elastic/Anagram

I was thrilled to present three of my original compositions with such brilliant and sympathetic collaborators, and in an intimate and supportive room. That’s Ben Dillinger on drums and Gustavo Cortiñas on drums. The set list is “All the Things You Are,” “Blue in Green,” and then my tunes “Waltz for F,” “Frankie’s Place” and “Further Places.”

Recent shows

Wednesday, Feb 23, 8 pm Abercrombie Quartet performed live at Fulton St Collective, 1821 W. Hubbard Street, with Harry Tonchev, guitar, James Russell Sims, drums, Samuel Peters, bass, and special guest, Mark Feldman, violin
Streamed live on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZiv-0XKcW8
Saturday, March 5, 5:30-7:00 pm, Hecht/Peters/Sims trio at FitzGerald’s
Monday, March 7, 8 pm, Hecht/Cortiñas/Dillinger at Elastic Anagram series

From left, James Russell Sims, Samuel Peters, and PH.

Saturday, May 7, 8:30 pm–11:30 pm, The Lakely, Oxbow Hotel, Eau Claire, WI

Duo with Graydon Peterson, bass.

Graydon Peterson on the right there.

Wednesday, May 11, 8 pm, Fulton Street Collective, 1821 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL

Kenny Wheeler’s Angel Song, performed live at the Jazz Record Art Collective, with Michael Hudson-Casanova, alto sax and leader; James Davis, trumpet; Samuel Peters, bass; Andy Danstrom, drums, and me on keys. Catch the livestream here: https://youtu.be/hfDwle8QCng

Abercrombie Quartets, Feb 23, 8 pm

And we’re now coming up again on the *twice* rescheduled performance of Abercrombie Quartet with me on keyboard, Harry Tonchev on guitar, Samuel Peters on bass, James Russell Sims on drums, and our special guest, Mark Feldman on violin. It will be Wednesday, February 23, at 8 pm. See you there, and do sign up for the Facebook event if that’s something you do . . .


The plan is still to present this fantastic record from 1980 with the original instrumentation, and also to introduce Mark Feldman’s violin and music from the “third quartet,” the Abercrombie group that Feldman played and recorded with for more than a decade.

Thus we have an opportunity not just to share with you more great music, but also to contemplate threads that lead off from our original focus on the band in 1980 to Abercrombie’s later writing, and the kinds of musical textures and colors he engaged in later groups, and we get to do that with a masterful improvisor and composer in his own right, Mark Feldman.

Mark Feldman

Digging into the Archive

Thoughts on John Abercrombie’s Abercrombie Quartet and our Tues. Oct 26 JRAC show

This show was delayed due to COVID situation at Fulton Street: new performance date, Tuesday, December 28.

So if we think of the archive of music as a great library with shelves extending into infinity (I think of the scenes from late in the film Interstellar), what I’ve done for this show is pick a book off the shelf almost at random. That is almost literally what happened—I was flipping through someone else’s collection of ECM vinyl and I put this on because I liked the cover and I thought I’d see what was up with John Abercrombie, who I’d heard of but never really listened to. What grabbed me were two things: the piano playing of Richie Beirach, and also his compositions, especially the waltz “Stray,” the third track on the first side. Then, knowing about JRAC, and thinking this could be interesting for the series, I started to transcribe and follow things further.

It’s been thrilling because the more time I spent with this music, the more I liked the group feel, the overall sonic combination of piano and guitar, the very active drumming, the gorgeous “direct bass” sound of George Mraz. Transcribing the tunes also revealed, as “Stray” had indicated, that this music had harmonic obsessions that I shared, and that I could also hear in works by, say, Mark Turner and Kurt Rosenwinkel.

Richie Beirach’s piano playing and his composing were what first drew me to this. What pulled me farther in, especially since we started rehearsing for this show, were the compositions by John Abercrombie, particularly the contemplative, lyrical pieces “Dear Rain” and (despite the whimsical title) “Foolish Dog.” Having now had a chance to explore more of the Abercrombie body of work, and also having had the distinct honor and luck to speak with Mark Feldman about later Abercrombie years, I can now recognize a style in those pieces that was his, and that kept informing writing in later years, and I like it!

From left: George Mraz, John Abercrombie, Richie Beirach, and Peter Donald

Where will all this lead? Not clear, but what is clear that digging into the archive, almost at random, can be a bracing experience, as of discovering an unknown world. I have no sort of encyclopedic mastery of jazz, of Black improvisational music, but I have listened to a lot, and this was not an obscure record—Abercrombie had an extensive career with one of the great record labels of the last fifty years. And yet, the degree of oblivion surrounding this group and these recordings is high. I have yet to run into anyone on the scene in Chicago who had heard them.

Part of the reason might have been that this group had its brief flourishing right as the Pat Metheny Group (also a guitar piano quartet at the start) was getting going—also on ECM for a bit, until the tensions between Metheny and Lyle Mays, on the one hand, and Manfred Eicher on the other, proved too great. This Abercrombie quartet also feels like a group where the guitarist and pianist have equally large musical personalities, but how different in almost every conceivable other way from the Metheny group. One is tempted to call this the anti-Pat Metheny Group. Let’s think about that: there is a commitment to freedom, interplay, a restlessness to this group; Metheny and Mays are on record for wanting to orchestrate and create steady narratives in their performances, emotional trajectories that could captivate their audiences.1 They felt that way too much was left to chance in jazz performance, and that very much extended to the recording studio, where their very clear and thought-through vision clashed with Eicher’s approach. But Abercrombie and Beirach certainly seem to have shared a vision. Again, linking to the example of Turner, there are pieces here where one can feel the desire to expand the vocabulary, there are pieces that are pathways to versions of harmonic indeterminacy, of chords that don’t quite fit in standard jazz speech. So despite the free-flow of energies, and the immense vitality of this playing, and the sense of delight and play, there is also abstraction and a serious bent toward musical locations that are difficult not just technically but emotionally, difficult because they are attached to multiple colors and registers of feeling and are thus fascinatingly indeterminate. And this all feels very different from the direction Metheny’s group pursued with such success.

Anyway, the JRAC is fabulous, as is the archive itself, because one can get pleasure from returning to a cherished volume, or from making a discovery from which more ideas and inspiration can be drawn, as well as drawing you farther along that particular shelf in this enormous library, which is what we hope this show will be for all who are able to join us.


  1. Here is a revealing quotation from Mays: “There were high concept discussions on dynamics, orchestration, form, pacing, drama, presentation . . . everything. It was the opposite of the jam session. We designed the group, it didn’t just click into place. It was engineered and built” (see Mays’ website, emphasis mine).