Add Chicago's Quin Kirchner to the growing list of young jazz artists who've dropped impressive multi-disc releases in recent years. It has become a kind of rite of passage for a new breed of heavy hitters, these double-and triple-album sets. They are not vanity projects. Not the good ones, anyway. They come from deep pools of creativity. The kind a very few young artists have accessible to them in the early prime of their careers.
Kirchner's follow-up to The Other Side of Time (Astral Spirits), his solid 2018 double-LP debut, is a 15-track, 87-minute leap forward. Not a minor one either. He tells a story about letting the session tapes that made up that first album sit idle for nearly a year after recording them. His self-admitted lack of confidence in the end product was great enough that the album was nearly shelved.
There is nothing uncertain about The Shadows and The Light. The drummer surrounds himself with much of Chicago's brightest young jazz talent. The album features eight players, all of them admired by those following the city's lively scene. Before fronting his own band, Kirchner spent years gigging around Chicago. So you know these guys are tight, musically and otherwise.
The album opens counter-intuitively, with a what's-old-is-new-again Korg Monotron analogue ribbon synth. Kirchner pairs that with a Roland SH-2000 and an impressively frenetic percussion solo. It demands our attention, not just as a result of its novelty.
"Batá Chop" follows. It's named for the double-headed drum often used in religious ceremonies. Kirchner has been carrying recordings of batá drummers on his Boss Dr. Sample for years. Rob Clearfield's Wurlitzer connects to the looped sample with surprising ease. This may not be the first ever pairing of those two instruments; it shouldn't be the last.
Elvin Jones fans will appreciate the band's take on his "At This Point In Time." As will Phil Cohran lovers when they hear this new version of his "Sahara." Carla Bley's "King Korn" and Frank Foster's "At This Point In Time" are also highlights.
Kirchner and his bandmates have also got a lot of love for the great Sun Ra. Besides covering "Planet Earth," the extraordinary "Jupiter Moon" originated out of a writing session on the master's birthday a couple of years before these sessions. Their reverence is palatable (Kirchner's band also featured "Brainville" on The Other Side of Time).
This is the kind of avant-garde jazz recording that reminds us how many different ways there are to create something beautiful. It is the band at its very best: warm, heavy and entirely in love with the music.
Shadow Intro; Batá Chop; At This Point In Time; Rift; Pathways; Sahara; Star Cluster; Moon Vision; Ecliptics;
Planet Earth; Jupiter Moon; Horizons; King Korn; The Shadows and The Light; Lucid Dream.