Chicago trio Bottle Tree premieres lead single off new eponymous debut

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bottle tree

The latest release from can’t-miss Chicago jazz-evangelist record label International Anthem has been described as what “Art Ensemble of Chicago would have sounded like if asked to write a ‘hit.’ ” While Lester Bowie might have pointed out that his Brass Fantasy group explored just that avant-jazz-meets-pop sensibility, Bottle Tree, a new collaboration conjured by singer/scholar A.M. Frison, takes an entirely different tack. Frison is Musician-in-Residence at artist Theaster Gates’s Stony Island Arts Bank and has previously released music under the name Coultrain, working with Platinum Pied Pipers among others. He is joined in Bottle Tree by composer/cornetist Ben Lamar Gay, an under-the-radar composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist known for his roots in the AACM and an active role in his native Chicago community, and Italian expat Tommaso Moretti on traps. Together, they combine mutated West African textures with the spirit of avant-garde jazz and a Motown-molded melodic mind. “The band thinks of it as the kind of trio you’d see in a storefront chapel,” says International Anthem’s Scottie McNiece, “with Frison as a seductive preacher of questionable ideas and Ben Lamar Gay as the church organist coloring his sermon with improvised melodies and flourishes.” Bottle Tree’s debut full-length will be released April 21, and Wax Poetics is happy to debut a preview in the form of the album opener, “Whereabouts Unknown.”

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