TOWN AND COUNTRY at the NOW Lounge (189 Church), Monday (February 19). $10. 416-364-1301.
TOWN AND COUNTRY at the NOW Lounge (189 Church), Monday (February 19). $10. 416-364-1301. there isn't a lot of room forerror in the music of Town and Country.The Chicago quartet, which came together out of the city's formidable improvised music scene, plays hushed acoustic chamber jazz, with guitars, bass, harmonium, accordion, trumpet and vibes spilling together over dreamy, 10-minute compositions.
Silence plays a major role on the group's recent It All Has To Do With It. And at the foursome's live performances, paying close attention is expected -- screw up and everyone's going to hear it.
That's fine if you're playing in a loft or concert hall. Try telling a few hundred people in a rock club to shut up and pay attention to your close-knit instrumental interplay, though.
"In this last year, we started touring for the first time and ran into some, ah, challenges," laughs guitarist/trumpeter Ben Vida from Chicago.
"We opened for the Sea and Cake and then Godspeed You Black Emperor! Both of those bands play in large halls for a lot of people, and it was a real struggle to bring out the subtleties of the music for people who maybe just wanted to have a drink and talk.
"As a group, we want to hear every shift in sound and want the effect to be really subtle, but when you're playing in front of 500 people, that can be a disaster. There's something about not having any amplifiers onstage that's really powerful, though. You can create this kind of space, and when it works it can be really intense."
With sessions for a new record looming, the members of Town and Country are looking to expand their instrumental arsenal even further.
A set of breakbeat remixes probably isn't in the cards, but don't be surprised if the lingering influence from Vida's time working at excellent Chicago jazz and soul store Dusty Groove creeps in.
"We all listen to a lot of different stuff," Vida enthuses. "That Ethiopiques series of old Ethiopian records blew my mind. In a way, it was really influential. I've also been listening to Thomas Mapfumo, and we've used the mbira in our music. We're really afraid of sounding too world-beaty, but it's cool where inspiration comes from.
"Beyond that, it's just nice to have all this great music to listen to that you don't have to integrate. Trust me, you don't want to see us try to play funky jazz music."
All quiet in the Country