Damon Locks – Black Monument Ensemble Review

Chicago has long been a home for the experimental fringes of improvised music. Ever since free jazz pianist Muhal Richard Abrams co-founded the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians in 1965 – to counter the dwindling popularity of jazz at the time – the Windy City has produced a largely self-sustaining ecosystem of modern instrumentalists pushing the boundaries of their artform.

While earlier examples include the likes of saxophonist Anthony Braxton and the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the last decade has seen a revival of Chicago’s jazz lineage on the international stage via the critically acclaimed releases of drummer and producer Makaya McCraven and composer Angel Bat Dawid.

Musician Damon Locks moved to Chicago in the late 1980s and has been a pillar of the city’s artistic community ever since. His most recent work takes the form of his collective of singers, dancers and musicians, the Black Monument Ensemble. Performing as part of the 2021 EFG London jazz festival, Locks now brings this free-form celebration of Chicago’s Black musical legacy to the art deco space of Hackney’s EartH.

Read the review in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 16/11/21]