Avant Voices Take Center Stage at Logan Square Arts Fest in Chicago


Keefe Jackson (left) and Jason Adasiewicz perform as a duo during the Logan Square Arts Festival in Chicago on June 26.

(Photo: Izzy Yellen)

At Chicago’s annual Logan Square Arts Festival, among the rock, electronica, ambient and folk artists on the bill June 26 were two of city’s most creative bands: a duo of reedist Keefe Jackson and vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, and the trio Twin Talk.

The inclusion of these two groups can be mainly attributed to Elastic Arts, a non-profit organization and local venue that fosters creative arts in Chicago. On the stage Elastic Arts programmed, these two groups played for the well-attended, free festival, offering selections from their most recent albums.

Earlier this year, Jackson and Adasiewicz released their debut album as a duo, Rows And Rows (Delmark). The album illustrates how these musicians’ friendship informs their music, and the duo’s set at the festival was an even more dynamic showcase for their friendly rapport.

While it was a bit surreal to see a creative music group at such a popular, family-friendly festival—especially when programmed amid so many straightahead acts—Jackson and Adasiewicz’s fans turned out in full force. The crowd devoured everything the reedist and vibraphonist created.

The duo opened with the final track from Rows And Rows, the ominous “Thunder Cooker.” The song featured frequent jumps from the extremely low register of Jackson’s bass clarinet to the extremely high register, intervallic leaps that were accompanied by warm tones on the vibes. The dreamy and loose feeling of the opener established the mood for the entire set.

While some of their playing was laid-back and simple, the show also featured moments of pure shredding, demonstrating each musician’s admirable agility and technical prowess. Despite Jackson and Adasiewicz’s virtuosity, both musicians avoided showy displays, instead listening intently and reacting to each other in the moment.

Judging by the audience’s reaction, Jackson and Adasiewicz won over plenty of new fans—both old and young. One toddler stood mesmerized at the foot of the stage, leaving only for brief rests before returning for more. Another youngster mimicked Jackson’s lines on his toy saxophone, even attempting some of Jackson’s mannerisms.

Prior to Jackson and Adasiewicz’s stellar set, the mellower and more accessible Twin Talk performed. Since the release of their sophomore album, Twin Talk (ears&eyes), on April 29, the trio of bassist/vocalist Katie Ernst, drummer Andrew Green and tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi has been keeping busy, sharing new music all over Chicago.

The relaxed vibe of the album translated well to a live show, with the material sounding similar to the original recordings, but with an added spark. The sense of musical communication that was so integral to the album was intensely present in this live setting.

The trio’s lively spirit was contagious, and its early afternoon performance set the tone for a day of beautiful weather and arts of all sorts. With a diverse lineup of music, an abundance of art and great food, the Logan Square Arts Festival would be a promising destination for any visitor traveling through Chicago next June.

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