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We’ve updated our Terms of Use. You can review the changes here.



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When? 06:02


STRAYLIGHT is the fourth release by Survival Unit III. It celebrates the bands ten years of existence. The group was formed in 2004 when all three musicians were members of the Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet. Initiated by Joe McPhee, this is his third Survival Unit group, spanning four decades. Fred Lonberg-Holm and Michael Zerang have been collaborating for 20 years on a variety of projects. Both based in Chicago, among other things, they have recorded and released albums with different guests forming trios, to include Axel Dörner, John Butcher, Jaap Blonk, Sten Sandell, Christoph Erb, and Michael Colligan.

Survival Unit III has toured and performed extensively, nationally and internationally. This recording was made during a USA tour in the expansive and beautiful space of the Krannert Art Museum in Champaign, IL. on September18, 2014.


released September 20, 2015


1. BLOOD OF A POET (For Steve Dalachinsky) 21:15
2. IF NOT NOW 20:55
3. WHEN? 6:03

Joe McPhee - pocket trumpet, soprano saxophone
Fred Lonberg-Holm - cello, tenor guitar, electronics
Michael Zerang - drums

Recorded & mixed by Dave Zuchowski
September 18, 2014 @ Krannert Art Museum, Champaign, IL.,
Mastered at Experimental Sound Studio, Chicago, by Alex Inglizian
A bit of a shout out to Charles Cohen, Geoff Gersh, Jason Finkelman
Artwork and design: Dan Mohr

©Joe McPhee / PoMusic/ ASCAP
©Michael Zerang / munimulamusic/ASCAP
©Fred Lonberg-Holm / BMI
Pink Palace PPCD002

Review on FREE JAZZ BLOG - Nov 3, 2015

By Eyal Hareuveni

Straylight from Survival Unit III - the trio of legendary trumpeter-saxophonist Joe McPhee, cellist-guitarist Fred Lonberg-Holm and drummer Michael Zernag - celebrates ten years of working together. The trio was initiated by McPhee in 2004, as his third Survival Unit group, when all three played in Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet. This trio has toured extensively on both sides of the Atlantic and recorded this album, its fourth, in the Krannert Art Museum in Champaign, IL, on September 2014.

These three resourceful and highly creative improvisers embody in their respective playing the true essence of freedom, whether we would title it 'free jazz' or 'free improvisation.' Their rich, individual languages, colorful imagination, great intuition and wise, dynamic interplay and lively sense of total freedom turn this live recording into a real gem. Already on the first extended piece “Blood of a Poet”, dedicated to New York-based poet Steve Dalachinsky, the trio follows its immediate instincts, adopting, developing and reconstructing brief ideas. This fast flow of ideas turns to be a loose, poetic narrative that stresses the strong, individual voices and at the same time the trio almost telepathic interplay. There is enough room for an intense, searching-scorching solo of Lonberg-Holm who adds electronics to his sonic palette, contrasted by a lyrical sax solo of McPhee and later by a fractured drumming of Zerang.

McPhee begins the second extended piece “If Not now…” with a commanding solo made of circular breathing on the pocket trumpet, filling the space with strange, agonizing voices. Zerang ornaments this intense, stream of breaths and shouts with light, percussive touches that become faster and more dense as the piece develops. Then Lonberg-Holm joins with his screaming, tenor guitar and ups the temperature into a fiery, wild one. This tight interplay disintegrates later on into spare breaths of McPhee, experiments of Lonberg-Holm with electric guitar and electronics sounds and Zerang explorations of the skins and cymbals of his drum set. Eventually McPhee takes the lead with a moving sax solo that pierces Lonberg-Holm electric storm and Zerang ceremonial, Middle-Eastern-tinged percussion.

The short answer to this piece, “When?”, is an energetic free-jazz piece, fueled by Zernag massive drumming, manic bowing of Lonberg-Holm and a gentle, compassionate playing of McPhee.



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Pink Palace Chicago, Illinois

Pink Palace is Michael Zerang’s personal label that will release a variety of his newer projects, across a spectrum of recorded formats, as well as older material from his archives. As an artist run label, you will be able to support him directly and effectively as he continues to develop and produce new work, and to engage with the wonderful artists that you will hear on this label. ... more

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