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Remembering Ornette Coleman

A re-imagining of music from our recording of the same name, in the time of Trump.

1. What happens to a dream deferred?

      (For Langston Hughes and The Dreamers)

2. Nothing left to loose

      (Try Trump, what have you got to loose?)

3. Rattle snakes and roaches

      (These guys are the ultimate survival units, perhaps we can learn from them...if we have time.)

4.  Barrow Street Blues

      (Remembering  Ornette Coleman)



The blues isn’t always about sadness, lost love or tragedy. “There are 8 million stories in the Naked City, this is just one of them.” When Ornette Coleman passed away on June 11, 2015, the world felt the gravity of his great loss.  For many of us, we are because he was.



This is the third and final iteration of a musical survival concept, which began in as solo project in 1969.  Survival Unit III was formed in 2004 at the invitation for a recording date.  Fred Lonberg-Holm, Michael Zerang and I were members of the Peter Brotzmann Chicago 10tet and by that time, we had been working together for five years. So in preparation for the recording, a tour was organized but the recording was cancelled at the last moment.  Left to our own devices and thanks to the tireless efforts of Fred and Michael, we play on.

JOE MCPHEE is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, improviser, conceptualist and theoretician.  He is currently the member of Trio X, leader of his Survival Unit III and has collaborated with Pauline Oliveros, Peter Brotzmann, Evan Parker, Raymond Boni, The Thing, Trespass Trio, and Universal Indians among many others.  With a career spanning nearly 50 years and over 100 recordings, he continues to tour internationally, forge new connections and reach for music’s outer limits.

Some guidance for the uninitiated Joe McPhee listener from Time Out New York:

“…His magical take on avant-garde sax remains one of the wonders of the scene.  He still has one of the most beautiful tones on the planet, even when he’s reaching for jazz’s outer limits.”


Percussionist, improvisor and composer MICHAEL ZERANG was born in 1958 in Chicago, Illinois. He has co-founded and performed with the musical groups Liof Munimula, The Neutrino Orchestra, Trio Troppo, The Wonderfuls, The Blue Angels, Sam Pappas' Tumbling Strains, Frozen Lucy, The Quirt Quintet, Musica Menta, The Vandermark Quartet, Dream Cheese, The Sputter Ensemble, In Zenith, and Broken Wire . In addition to these ensembles, Zerang currently performs with many innovative musicians including AACM co-founder Fred Anderson, Mats Gustafsson, Raymond Strid, Sten Sandell, Don Meckley, Jaap Blonk, Daniel Scanlan, Peter Brötzmann, Kent Kessler, Barre Phillips, Jim Baker, Hamid Drake, Ken Vandermark, Luc Hautkamp, and Fred Lonberg-Holm. He has recorded for Okka Disc, boxMEDIA, Kontrans, Southport, Quinnah, Eighth Day Music, Garlic, and Platypus, labels as well as many others.

Zerang has been commissioned to write over 100 musical / sound compositions in collaboration with choreographers, theater companies, performance artists, new music ensembles, and film & video makers. In 1996 and 1998 Zerang received a Joseph Jefferson Citation for original music composition for his work on Redmoon Theater's mask and puppet version of FRANKENSTEIN and THE BALLAD OF FRANKIE AND JOHNNY that both premiered at the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago.

Zerang has taught as a guest artist at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in performance technique and sound design as related to puppetry; rhythmic analysis for dancers at The Dance Center of Columbia College and Northwestern University, courses in Composer - Choreographer Collaborations at Northwestern University, and music to children at The Jane Adams Hull House. He has held workshops in improvisational music and extended percussion techniques. He teaches private lessons in rhythmic analysis, music composition, and percussion technique.

Zerang founded the Link's Hall Performance Series in November 1985 and functioned as artistic director until 1989. Link's Hall continues to present experimental music, modern dance, traditional ethnic folk music, poetry and fiction readings, and performance art events. He also curated events at Club Lower Link's, a venue for experimental arts in Chicago from 1987-1989. Zerang continues to present experimental music programs at various venues in Chicago. He is the past Board president for the Experimental Sound Studio of Chicago, and current Board member of Link's Hall Inc., The Curious Theater Branch, and The Children's School of Evanston.

In 1995 and 1998 Zerang received a grant from The Chicago Artists International Program and traveled to Stockholm to perform and record with some of Sweden's most innovative musicians and, in 98 to Switzerland, Germany and Holland with cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm. He has received grants from The Illinois Arts Council, The Chicago Office of Fine Arts, Arts Midwest, and The Regional Artist Project Grant.


Chicago based cellist FRED LONBERG-HOLM has played and studied music in a variety of situations from the Juilliard School to the gutter. A former student of Anthony Braxton, Morton  Feldman, Bunita Marcus and Pauline Oliveros, his primary projects are his Valentine Trio and The Lightbox Orchestra. He is also a member of a number of ongoing collective projects (The Boxhead Ensemble, The Friction Brothers with Michaels Zerang and Colligan, The Flatlands Collective, Keefe Jackson's Fast Citizens) as well as participating in numerous one off "ad-hoc" or in frequently convening ensembles. He also currently plays in groups led by Joe McPhee (Survival Unit III).  Improvisors he has worked with include Jim Baker, John Butcher,  Wilbert DeJoode, Axel Doerner, Mats Gustafsson, Charlotte Hug, Glenn Kotche, Peter Kowald, Nicole Mitchell, Torsten Muller, Jim O'Rourke, Jeff Parker, David Stakenas, Ben Vida, and Michael Zerang.  He has contributed cello sounds to numerous recording projects by rock groups including Califone, Freakwater, God-is-my-co-pilot, L'altra, Smog, Superchunk, US Maple, Wilco and many others.