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The CHIRP Blog

DJ Mick writesCritical Rotation: “Chicago Waves” by Carlos Niño and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson

Twice a month, CHIRP DJ and Features Co-Director Mick takes a deep dive into two albums currently in rotation on CHIRP's charts that he thinks are worth some special attention. If you haven't given these albums a listen in their entirety, let Mick make the case for why you should!

Carlos Niño and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson
Chicago Waves
International Anthem

Chicago Waves is likely the most Athenian collection of improvised jazz to be released this year.

Springing fully formed from the hands, mouths, and minds of collaborators Carlos Niño and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Chicago Waves was debuted as an impromptu performed during the release show of Jeremy Cunnigham’s stupendous The Weather Up There, where the duo had been invited as special guest performers.

There was no precursor to the performance and no indication of its content. It merely emerged as you hear it on captured on the album, now released by Chicago’s best new jazz imprint, International Anthem.

Already having been in town to perform selections of the Makaya McCraven’s cross-continental Universal Beings project, Niño and Atwood-Ferguson had spent the days before their performance acquainting themselves with Chicago’s culture and geography.

The music of Chicago Waves reflects their journey in surprising ways, pondering the tranquility of the city’s shoreline and proximity to forest and marsh areas, the music has a resonate flow and zen-like harmony to it.

Soft chimes trickle under gliding strings like streams below an egret’s flight. Ascending soundscapes rise like the sun above the coastline, spreading golden-hued sensations sweeping across meditative bodies of shimmering surf, swaddling the ears in a warm melodious outflow.

The presentation is so captivating it seems impossible that it could have been performed in a single take before a live audience, but the sounds of spectators clearing their throats, adjusting their chairs, and emitting audible gasps throughout the set, leaves little doubt as to its authenticity.

Chicago Waves is broken into eight parts, each flowing majestically into the next in a frictionless procession of a polyphonic epiphany. “Part II” opens like a crack in a cliff’s face through which a stream runs and all manner of living creatures make their homes.

“Part IV” has a warm, vespertine air about it, where bowing sonic coos mimic the hoots of owls and excellent string work evokes the image of passing shooting stars. “Part VI – Into Eternity” suggests distance from its subject as cool piano wonders through washes of beach eating percussion and sharp string arrangements that fall like leaves from quivering walls of foliage.

Chicago Waves concludes with the difficult ascent off “Part VIII – Chicago Waves” a marathon clammer of clashing percussion and billowing melodies that force the listener towards the aperture of a final revelatory close.

A journey like no other, Chicago Waves will take you places you didn’t realize you needed to go.

Mick is always writing about something he's heard. Possibly even something you'd like. You can read his stuff over at the I Thought I Heard a Sound blog.

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Categorized: Album Reviews

Topics: carlos niño and miguel atwood-ferguson

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