Elijah McLaughlin Ensemble, Caleb Willitz - Morning Improvisations / Evening Abstractions (2024) [Hi-Res]

  • 07 Jun, 16:46
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Title: Morning Improvisations / Evening Abstractions
Year Of Release: 2024
Label: Centripetal Force
Genre: Jazz, Folk, Experimental
Quality: 16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC; 24-bit/96kHz FLAC
Total Time: 39 min
Total Size: 225; 766 MB

Centripetal Force announces the release of Elijah McLaughlin & Caleb Willitz’s Morning Improvisations / Evening Abstractions. The album will be available for preorder April 30th. The release date is June 7th. It will be available digitally, as well as on vinyl.

Elijah McLaughlin, a Chicago-based guitarist who has released three well-regarded albums as bandleader of the Elijah McLaughlin Ensemble (Astral Spirits, Tompkins Square), and his long time friend and collaborator, Caleb Willitz, a recording engineer, producer, and sound artist, are in their element on this album, as each musician is constantly feeding off the other’s creativity. The eight tracks that make up Morning Improvisations / Evening Abstractions are replete with experimentation, and each performance displays a building excitement and exudes inspiration.

Willitz, who also worked with the likes of Jeff Parker and Bill MacKay, and McLaughlin set up the ideal conditions to invoke the best of their abilities, allowing for even the recording process itself to take on a more spontaneous spirit. The duo set up camp in Willitz’s studio to work without the restraints of time, a move that allowed total freedom to create adventurously. Utilizing a refurbished 8-track tape machine, the pair was only restricted by the 25-minute limit of their analogue reels of tape. With McLaughlin playing an electric guitar routed through stereo amplifiers and various effects and Willitz playing piano while simultaneously controlling a tape delay with a foot pedal, the two developed ethereal and transcendental soundscapes that exist somewhere between free jazz, post-rock, and ambient music.

From there, the two artists picked the best takes from their sessions and exhaustively mined them for musical directions to pursue. Once a path was determined, they worked their material into song structures through extensive editing, rearranging, and overdubbing. As they were in the process of shaping these raw jams into well-crafted compositions, Willitz and McLaughlin intentionally left space within some tracks for their guest musicians to jump in. Fellow Chicago improv veterans Edward Wilkerson Jr., Josh Johannpeter, Charles Rumback, and Jason Stein not only assisted in fleshing out the sound of these recordings, they straight up elevated them to new dimensions with heaps of additional color and texture. A prime example being on “Vesper Pt. 2” as McLaughlin's wall of distorted guitar is perfectly met by a surge of cataclysmic drums, howling sax, and whirling clarinet. The finished track is a veritable hurricane of brass, amplifiers, and percussion of Pharaoh Sanders sized proportions.

Fittingly, the approach and feel of Morning Improvisations / Evening Abstractions is intrinsically linked to some of the music McLaughlin was consuming during the early phases of its production. The intentionality of Lalgudi Jayaraman’s Violin, Venu, Veena is present on the album, as is the frenetic aggression of Sonny Sharrock’s Ask the Ages. The meticulous editing and rearrangement that famously went into Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock certainly played a role, as did the kind of rhythmic and harmonic interplay found on Laurie Spiegel’s The Expanding Universe.

Similarly, the album reflects some of the fertile and multifaceted music ecosystem of McLaughlin and Willitz’s Chicago home. Shades of the city’s abstract jazz, minimalist, and free improv scenes can be detected within the very fiber of the record’s being, informing the performances and compositions, as well as the vast palette of sounds and the duo’s unrestrained creative energy. This influence of Chicago’s rich culture is further enhanced by the contributions of their guest artists, each of whom represents a different pocket of the city’s music scene.

1.01 - Elijah McLaughlin, Caleb Willitz, Charles Rumback - Vesper (7:11)
1.02 - Elijah McLaughlin, Caleb Willitz, Jason Stein, Charles Rumback, Edward Wilkerson Jr. - Vesper pt. 2 (5:09)
1.03 - Elijah McLaughlin, Caleb Willitz, Josh Johannpeter - Weaving of Smoke (2:39)
1.04 - Elijah McLaughlin, Caleb Willitz, Jason Stein, Charles Rumback - Insomnist (2:41)
1.05 - Elijah McLaughlin, Caleb Willitz - Rest (1:49)
1.06 - Elijah McLaughlin, Caleb Willitz - Good Fortune (7:46)
1.07 - Elijah McLaughlin, Caleb Willitz, Charles Rumback - A Clock For No Time (8:16)
1.08 - Elijah McLaughlin, Caleb Willitz, Jason Stein - Awakening (3:46)