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Ches Smith

Idioma disponível: inglês
Percussionist, drummer, and composer Ches Smith is a forward-thinking, genre-bending musician with a bent toward experimental and avant-garde improvisation. Initially getting his start as a replacement touring musician with Mr. Bungle in the mid-'90s, Smith has established himself as a highly regarded collaborator with artists like Xiu Xiu, John Zorn, Mary Halvorson, and others. He's issued his own inventive albums including 2010's Finally Out of My Hands with his These Arches group, the 2012 solo percussion album Psycho Predictions, and his 2016 ECM debut, The Bell, with Mat Maneri and Craig Taborn. The following year, he and his Haitian jazz project We All Break digitally issued their self-titled debut. He worked on Dave Holland's Uncharted Territories in 2018, and with David Torn and Tim Berne on Sun of Goldfinger a year later. After signing We All Break to Kris Davis' Pyroclastic Records in 2020, he released Path of Seven Colors in 2021. In addition to his quartet, the set doubled the band's size and included saxophonist Miguel Zenón and vocalist Sirene Dantor Rene. The drummer returned to recording with Taborn and Maneri with guitarist Bill Frisell rounding out a quartet for 2022's Interpret It Well. Born in San Diego, Smith grew up in the Sacramento area, where he became interested in music in his teens, playing with a variety of punk, metal, and avant-garde jazz groups. After high school, he attended the University of Oregon, where he studied philosophy before relocating to San Francisco in the mid-'90s. Once in the Bay Area, Smith spent several years playing in bands and studying privately with percussionist Peter Magadini before enrolling in the graduate program at Mills College in Oakland. While at Mills, he studied percussion, improvisation, and composition under the tutelage of such luminaries as William Winant, Fred Frith, Pauline Oliveros, and Alvin Curran. It was during this period that Smith got his first big break, subbing for Winant as the touring drummer for Mr. Bungle, an association that also led to his joining Mr. Bungle bassist Trevor Dunn's Trio-Convulsant. After leaving Mills, Smith developed into an in-demand collaborator and sideman, splitting his time between performances with noise rock acts like Xiu Xiu and Secret Chiefs 3 as well as playing with cutting-edge musicians including Tim Berne, John Zorn, Wadada Leo Smith, and many others. As a solo artist, Smith made his debut with Congs for Brums in 2006, followed by Finally Out of My Hands with his group These Arches in 2010. Two years later, he delivered the solo percussion and electronics album Psycho Predictions, played on Berne's Snakeoil for ECM (his third date with this band) and Darius Jones' Book of Mae'bul: Another Kind of Sunrise from AUM Fidelity. 2013 proved a prolific year for Smith as a sideman. He played on recordings by Marc Ribot, Mary Halvorson, Matt Mitchell, and Berne, as well as Secret Chiefs 3's Book of Souls: Folio A. This band issued Ishraqiyun the following year, as well as Ches Smith's These Arches' release International Hookah. 2015 found the drummer working again on recordings by and with Berne, Jones, and Halvorson. Smith made his label debut as a leader on ECM with the trio date The Bell in January 2016. His sidemen were pianist Craig Taborn and violist Mat Maneri. He then paired with bassist Dave Holland, saxophonist Evan Parker, and Taborn for 2018's Uncharted Territories. The following year, he was back on ECM for Sun of Goldfinger with David Torn and Tim Berne. For many years, Smith has a held a deep, abiding, studious interest in Haitian music and vodou ceremonial music. He studied and played with Haitian master drummers in New York, and visited Haiti for further study and playing. In 2015 he formed We All Break, a quartet with pianist Matt Mitchell, and hand drummers/vocalists Daniel Brevil (one of his teachers) and Markus Schwartz. They digitally issued their self-titled debut two years later. Even as he pursued other projects, Smith was deeply invested in the music he made with We All Break, and they continued to play together whenever schedules would allow. In 2020, he signed the band to pianist Kris Davis' Pyroclastic Records, and entered the recording studio. Smith had expanded the band into an octet with the addition of saxophonist Miguel Zenón, bassist Nick Dunston, vocalist Sirene Dantor Rene, and third percussionist Fanfan Jean-Guy Rene. Path of Seven Colors appeared in June 2021. The deluxe boxed package included a physical pressing of the original album -- titled 2015 for the year the band formed -- alongside the statement from the newly expanded group, titled 2020. Back in 2018, guitarist Bill Frisell attended a concert by The Bell trio of Smith, Maneri, and Taborn. The guitarist contacted Smith with many questions about the compositions they played. Further communication resulted in Frisell joining the trio for a performance in 2020, just before the world locked down during the COVID-19 pandemic. In October, the quartet entered an upstate New York studio with Ron Saint Germain and recorded Smith's compositions over two days while social distancing. The finished recordings were eventually released by Pyroclastic in May 2022 as Interpret It Well.
© Matt Collar & Thom Jurek /TiVo
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