An exit interview with departing clarinetist James Falzone and a rare set by Chris Dammann’s Restroy
Tuesday evening at the Whistler, local label Milk Factory Productions showcases two of its key projects: the 3.5.7 Ensemble (led by saxophonist Nick Anaya) and Restroy (led by bassist Chris Dammann). I wrote about the former in late 2014, but Dammann's band doesn't play often—this is just its second Chicago gig since the release of last year's Saturn Return. Dammann jokingly told me, "The first concert was top secret due to my lack of promotion for it."
The combo plays refined postbop arrangements of the leader's compositions, given depth by the plush-toned trumpet of James Davis, the full-bodied tenor saxophone of Anaya, and the bracing violin and cello of Catherine Monnes. Here and there guitarist Tim Stine and flutist Gina Sobel add extra front-line counterpoint, but the primary wrinkle in Restroy's music is rhythmic—the record features four percussionists. Daniel Richardson and Dylan Andrews alternate on drum kit, Loren Oppenheimer adds tabla and frame drum on four tracks, and Matt Wyatt contributes sample-based electronics and percussion to another three.
As you can hear below on "Uma," the extra percussion gives the ensemble a nice jolt of propulsion and texture without smothering the horns. For Tuesday's gig Restroy will consist of Dammann, Monnes, and drummer John Niekrasz.