Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Hear This 

Saxophonist John Tchicai offers free jazz

Wednesday, Aug 30 2000
Veteran saxophonist John Tchicai is an excellent example of the old tenet that most improvisers only sound as good as the company they keep. In the early '60s, the Copenhagen-born Tchicai moved to NYC, where he established himself as a powerful new voice among "New Thing" revolutionaries Archie Shepp, Don Cherry, and Roswell Rudd. With these world-class collaborators he co-founded cutting-edge combos, which led to appearances on breakthrough albums by Shepp, Albert Ayler, and John Coltrane.Tchicai's promise as a top-tier player of this historic era, which ultimately changed the shape of jazz forever, was all but guaranteed. But his bands didn't last, and his high-profile associations ended abruptly when he returned to Denmark in the latter half of the decade. There he dropped off the stateside radar of subversives to watch, and while somewhat active in the ensuing years, Tchicai only reared his horn on rare occasions.

Still a "name" jazz cat, he accepted a teaching post at UC Davis in the early '90s. In the past few years he's been heard around the Bay Area, often in student-level or pickup improv groups of little substance. Then along came Infinitesimal Flash, a thunder crash in a clear blue sky. With an inspired, multigenerational group of creative-jazz explorers -- Francis Wong (sax, flute), Adam Lane (bass), Mat Marucci (drums) -- Tchicai's performance on this disc is stunning. His sound seems drawn from the same spirit well as Ayler's: diaphanous, keening, beautiful-sad, resilient. There are also blazing moments of Ornette Coleman's spiraling momentum. In the company of players who ignite each other's power, John Tchicai is once again a force that commands attention.

About The Author

Sam Prestianni


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"