Option Series


OPTION is a weekly music salon on Monday nights at Experimental Sound Studio. Its programming explores contemporary perspectives on improvisation and composition in a 'salon' format, enabling local, national, and international artists to publicly discuss their practice and ideas as well as perform—all in the intimate environment of ESS's Studio A. Organized by Chicago musicians Andrew ClinkmanTim Daisy, and Ken Vandermark, the schedule of concerts represents an insider's view of what is currently most exciting in music and the arts. Shows are professionally recorded by ESS staff, and are nearly always streamed live on youtube. You can view the live stream on this page in the video window below. We are continuing the process of assembling a library of archived streams that subscribers to the series may access at any time.


March 2019 OPTION performances are sponsored by Luhring Augustine.


The OPTION season runs from March-October each year. Performances and talks take place Monday evenings at 7:30 in Experimental Sound Studio’s intimate live room.


Watch excerpts from the entire 2018 season on ESS’s YouTube channel. For access to the growing archive of full-length OPTION performance and interview videos 2015-present, become an ESS MEMBER.

October 22, 2018: Option welcomed the legendary composer, percussionist, visual artist and educator Gerry Hemingway for a set of solo.

Sponsored by Peter Freeman Inc.

June 18, 2018: Sfyria trio includes NYC saxophonist Sam Decker as well as Charlie Kirchen on bass and Matt Carroll on drums.

Sponsored by Galerie Max Hetzler.

April 23, 2018: Excerpt of violinist, pianist and vocalist Macie Stewart performing with Julian Kirshner on percussion.

Sponsored by Galerie Gisela Capitain.

October 1, 2018: Violinist, violist and vocalist LaDonna Smith made a rare visit to Chicago where she performed a set of solo music.

Sponsored by Peter Freeman Inc.

May 21, 2018: Zurich based vocalist, drummer and electronics musician Jason Kahn performed solo.

Sponsored by David Nolan Gallery.

April 9, 2018: Danish-American saxophonist, vocalist, and composer Louise Dam Eckardt Jensen in duo with Chicago's own Kent Kessler.

Sponsored by Galerie Gisela Capitain.

September 24, 2018: Chicago based cellist and composer Lilianna Zofia Wosko performed a solo set followed by a duo with rising star Ben LaMar Gay on cornet and electronics.

Sponsored by gallery Luhring Augustine.

May 7, 2018: Composer, improviser and clarinetist Angel Bat Dawid performs with Adam Zanolini on saxophone and flute and Xris Espinoza on saxophone and bowed percussion.

Sponsored by David Nolan Gallery.

March 12, 2018: New York-based saxophonist and composer Ingrid Laubrock performing a solo set.

Sponsored by Corbett vs. Dempsey.

September 17, 2018: Sound artist, visual artist and architect Sandy Ewen made her debut on the Option stage with a set of solo music.

Sponsored by gallery Luhring Augustine.

April 30, 2018: Pianist Michael Coleman and clarinetist Ben Goldberg present "Practitioner" A Realization of Steve Lacy's "Hocus Pocus."

Sponsored by Galerie Gisela Capitain.

March 19, 2018: Pianist and composer Kris Davis performed solo on the OPTION stage.

Sponsored by Corbett vs. Dempsey.


OPTION AUDIO is a digital album series that highlights key performances from the ongoing Option program of improvised and experimental music. Every Thursday starting September 6, 2018 a completely unique recording from the most significant members of the contemporary music community will be made available to listeners, culled from a catalog of weekly concerts that have been taking place at ESS throughout the majority of each year since June of 2015.


Become a member of ESS to support the series and get cool oPTION related benefits.


If you'd prefer, make a one-time tax-deductible donation to OPTION in the amount of your choice here:



Keep Your Options Open II Mixtape CD
Add to Cart

In celebration of the 2018 OPTION season, ESS has released a special, limited edition mixtape CD that highlights some of the best improvisers working today from around the world. This compilation showcases the breadth and diversity of improvised and creative music with rising starts like Lea Bertucci, Katinka Kleijn, Ben LaMar Gay, Matchess, The Few and Charmaine Lee as well as veterans of free jazz (Mats Gustafsson, Antonio Borghini, Tim Daisy, Jeremiah Cymerman, Curt Newton, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten). These live sets from the 2017 OPTION season were beautifully mixed and mastered by our head engineer, Alex Inglizian. By purchasing a mixtape, you are supporting Experimental Sound Studio,  the OPTION programming, and keeping creative music alive and thriving in Chicago.

Featuring: Lea Bertucci, Matchess, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, Curt Newton, Ben LaMar Gay, Charmaine Lee, The Few, Jeremiah Cymerman, Katinka Kleijn, Mats Gustafsson, Antonio Borghini, Tim Daisy



March 4 – Don Dietrich

March 11 – Biliana Voutchkova and Jakob Wormenbol

March 18 – Darius Jones

March 25 – Lisa Mezzacappa

April 1 – Matt Mehlan

April 8 – Sam Weinberg and Henry Fraser

April 15 – Adam Shead solo + duo with Matt Piet

April 22 - Anna Webber solo + duo with Katie Young

April 29 - Anne La Berge and Amanda Schoofs



March 12 – Ingrid Laubrock

March 19 – Kris Davis

March 26 – Molly Jones / Michael Foster & Ben Bennett

April 2 – Gerrit Hatcher & Anton Hatwich

April 9 – Tom Blancarte & Louise Dam Eckardt Jensen

April 16 – Shelton / Berre Duo

April 23 – Macie Stewart / Macie Stewart & Julian Kirshner Duo

April 30 - Michael Coleman & Ben Goldberg

May 7 – Angel Bat Dawid

May 14 – Jeff Kimmel solo + trio

May 21 – Jason Kahn / Jason Kahn & Carol Genetti Duo

May 28 – Bonnie Jones solo & discussion

June 4 – Wayne Horvitz & Sara Schoenbeck

June 11 – Dennis Gonzalez & Kent Kessler Duo

June 18 –Sam Decker Solo / Sfyria Trio

June 25 – Lia Kohl & Macie Stewart Duo

July 2 – Kelley Sheehan / Emily Beisel & Taylor Stevenson

July 9 –Tyler Damon solo & Tyler Damon & Andrew Scott Young duo

July 16 – J@K@L (Fred Lonberg-Holm, Keefe Jackson, Julian Kirshner)

July 23 - Julien Bayle solo and discussion

July 30 - Susan Alcorn solo and discussion

August 6 - Kevin Davis solo / Kevin Davis, Katherine Young & Phil Sudderberg Trio

August 13 - Sarah Hughes solo / Sarah Hughes & Steve Hunt Duo

August 20 - Luke Stewart solo & discussion

August 27 - Ted Reichman solo & Havard Wiik solo

September 3 - CANCELLED, Don Dietrich Solo originally scheduled

September 10 - Max Johnson solo / Max Johnson, Dave Rempis, Sam Pluta

September 17 - Sandy Ewen solo & discussion

September 24 - Lilianna Zofia Wosko solo / Lilianna Zofia Wosko & Ben LaMar Gay

October 1 - LaDonna Smith solo & discussion

October 8 - Greg Kelley solo & discussion

October 15 - Lunch With Money featuring Lou Mallozzi & Douglas Ewart

October 22 - Gerry Hemingway solo & discussion

October 29 - Booker Stardrum solo / Book Stardrum, Dave Rempis, Beth McDonald


January 11 – Shayne Bowden

January 18 – Elisabeth Harnik / Didi Kern & Tim Daisy

January 25 – Marc Riordan / Julian Kirshner

February 1 – Tar Pet / Michael Zerang

February 8 – Mat Maneri

February 15 – Weston Olencki / Katherine Young

February 22 – Keefe Jackson / Steve Hunt

February 29 – Josh Berman with Joshua Abrams / Aaron Zarzutzki

March 7 – Michael Attias

March 14 – Lia Kohl & Jessica Cornish / Richard Hull

March 21 – Joe Morris

March 28 – Fred Lonberg-Holm

April 4 – Kent Kessler & Jason Stein

April 11 – Jeb Bishop, Hamid Drake & Joshua Abrams

April 18 – Christof Kurzmann

April 25 – Tom Rainey

May 2 – Jim Becker / Joe Adamik

May 9 – Eve Risser / Jason Roebke

May 16 – Paul Giallorenzo with Anton Hatwich & Julian Kirshner

May 23 – Steve Swell / Fred Lonberg-Holm / Michael Zerang

May 30 – Susana Santos Silva / Toby Cederberg / Jim Baker
June 6 – Ben Vida / Jason Adasiewicz

June 13 – Christopher Riggs / Carl Testa

June 20 – Anthony Coleman

June 27 – Invisible Guy

July 11 – Andrew Clinkman* / Carol Genetti / Jeff Kimmel

July 18 – Jaimie Branch & Fred Lonberg-Holm / Ben LaMar Gay, Josh Berman


March 6 – Ned Rothenberg

March 13 – Nicola Hein with Fred Lonberg-Holm & Phillip Sudderberg

March 20 – Chad Taylor

March 27 – Dee Alexander & Miguel de la Cerna

April 3 – Rob Mazurek

April 10 – Darren Johnston with Dave Rempis

April 17 – Ingebrigt Haker Flaten

April 24 – Rumback / Baker / Tate / Ward

May 1 – The Few

May 8 – Jeremiah Cymerman Duo

May 15 – Charmaine Lee w/ Sam Pluta

May 22 – John Sparagana, John Corbett, Ken Vandermark

May 29 – Survival Unit III

June 5 – Andrea Jablonski & Cale Arthur

June 12 – Damon Locks Solo

June 19 –Lou Mallozzi Solo

June 26 – Dave Rempis Solo & Discussion

July 3 – Option BBQ, DJ’d By Ken Vandermark, John Corbett and Tim Daisy

July 10 –Ikue Mori Solo & Discussion

July 17 –  Helen Gillet Solo & Discussion

July 24 – Curt Oren Solo, Duo With Ben Lamar Gay

July 31 – Daniel Wyche & Kelley Sheehan

August 7 –Ben Hall Solo

August 14 – Katinka Kleijn

August 21 – Matt Piet & Bill Harris

August 28 – Beth McDonald

September 4 – Katie Ernst

September 11 – Sharif Sehnaoui

September 18 – Ballake Sissoko & Nicole Mitchell

September 25 – Rafael Toral

October 2  – Mats Gustafsson, Antonio Borghini & Tim Daisy

October 9 – Olie Brice Duo w/ Jason Stein & Josh Berman

October 30 – Michael Vatcher Solo Drum Set



June 1 – Paul Lytton: performance & discussion

June 8 – Johannes Bauer, Jason Adasiewicz, Paul Lytton

June 15 – Jason Roebke, Jason Adasiewicz, Jason Stein

June 22 – The Mars Williams Quartet

June 29 – Ari Brown: performance & discussion

July 6 – Jim Baker/Carol Genetti: solos and duo

July 13 – The Green Pasture Happiness: performance and short films by Jim O’Rourke

July 20 – Tim Barnes: performance and discussion

July 27 – James Falzone/Guillermo Gregorio – solos and duo

August 3 – Nate Wooley: performance & discussion

August 10 – Jen Clare Paulson

August 17 – Dave Rempis/Edward Wilkerson, Jr.: solos and duos

August 24 – Silvia Bolognesi with Avreeayl Ra

August 31 – Jason Adasiewicz, Ron Gordon

September 7 – Paal Nilssen-Love: solo & discussion

September 14 – Jason Wick and Moon Bros

September 21 – Arian S., Ethan T. Parcell & Albert Wildeman

September 28 – Pandelis Karayorgis: solo & discussion

October 5 – Hasco Duo: Amanda DeBoer & Jesse Langen / Ryan Packard

October 12 – Rob Lundberg / Art Union Humanscape Duo: Ayako Kato/Jason Roebke

October 19 – Terrie Ex & Andy Moor: performance & discussion with Ken Vandermark

October 26 – Andrew Drury/Ingrid Laubrock

November 2 – Urs Leimgruber, Jacques Demierre: solos, duo & discussion

November 9 – Jack Wright & Zach Darrup / Ramon Lopez

November 16 – The Russ Johnson Trio

November 23 – Joe McPhee

November 30 - Sylvie Courvoisier: solo & discussion

December 7 – Spencer Yeh

December 14 – Albert Wildeman with Jessica Cornish, Ryan Packard, Dave Rempis


About the programmers

Andrew Clinkman (guitarist, improviser and composer, active member of the creative music communities in both Chicago and Boston)

Tim Daisy (percussionist, improviser, composer and teacher, active participant on the international music scene since the late 1990s)

Ken Vandermark (multi-instrumentalist, improviser and composer, MacArthur Fellow, organizer of weekly concerts in Chicago at a diverse range of venues for 15 years starting in the early 1990s)