On June 7th at Constellation in Chicago, Volcano Radar (Elbio Barilari and Julia Miller) will be joined by vocalist Patricia Núñez, a.ka. “La Tiranta”, and dancer Patricia Aravena to present a show called Flamenco Soundscapes. We caught up with the members of Volcano Radar so they could tell about the show and what we would be able to expect to hear on June 7th at Constellation.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Tell us about Volcano Radar, who is in the group and how did you first start working together?
Elbio Barilari & Julia Miller: Volcano Radar started in 2012 at the mythological Andy’s warehouse, in Chicago. There, Uruguayan born multi-instrumentalist Elbio Barilari and American experimental guitar player Julia Miller put their different background and roots, such as jazz, electronics, Latin American music, rock and experimental music to work together. Five years and many concerts later, the band’s two releases on the online label “Pan y Rosas” have gotten over 40 thousand downloads. These CDs are available on iTunes. Their CD featuring Paquito D’Rivera is currently in the post-production stages. Some of Chicago’s most prominent musicians have collaborated with Volcano Radar, among them: Baabe Irving III, Edward Wilkerson Jr., Jim Gailloreto, Tatsu Aoki, Rob Mazurek, Ernie Adams, Harrison Bankhead, Avreeayl Ra, Tim Davis, Darwin Noguera, Rollo Radford, Matt Lux and many others.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: It seems like Volcano Radar incorporates many different styles and layers of sound in its music. Is there a themed concept the group works from and then, depending on the performance situation, builds the music from it?
Elbio Barilari & Julia Miller: Collaborative work is foundational to Volcano Radar’s musical practice. Starting with the duo, the group incorporates technology and compositional techniques to create soundscapes and to invite other artist to participate in the conversation. We tend to re-contextualize different music(s) and different cultural traditions in a new and -we believe- unique sonic experience.For example, is our recent (March 2017) projects with Italian master trombonist Giancarlo Schiaffini and percussionist Andrea Centazzo included a very successful final concert at Constellation, radio performances and a CD we hope to release in the near future.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: You have an interesting show coming up at Constellation on June 7th that will partner Volcano Radar with two of the leading Flamenco artists in the Midwest. Tell us about how the concept for this show came about.
Elbio Barilari & Julia Miller: Flamenco music is an amazing and strong tradition. It is Spanish music with Gypsy, Arabic and Jewish roots. Chicago is a very cosmopolitan city and Patricia Núñez, a.ka. “La Tiranta”, must be counted among its most significant artists. She is from Córdoba, Spain and she has Gypsy family roots from her mother’s side. When she sings you can tell that all that “duende” and drama has a long, long and rich history. Dancer Patricia Aravena has been one of the main dancers of the award winning “Ensemble Español” but also has a modern dance background that makes her the perfect artist for this show.
The name of the show, “Flamenco Soundscapes”, reflects this integration of the deep historical and cultural roots of Flamenco music with the contemporary urban sonic experience. You can expect a wide and deep sound with many melodic, rhythmic layers, the Flamenco singing on top of that and the striking visuals proposed by the dance as well. We think it is going to be very beautiful.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: In addition to featuring Flamenco artists Patricia Nuñez and Leticia Aravena will there be other artists performing on June 7th?
Elbio Barilari & Julia Miller: The great Ernie Adams will be playing drumset and percussion. He is the perfect musician for this show because of the many different musical traditions he practices, including an instrument such as the “cajón”, very present in Flamenco music. The double bass player will be the great Harrison Bankhead. He has been a part of Volcano Radar since the beginning and we have already collaborated with him in the field of flamenco soundscapes. Also, when you are playing with a drummer that was for 14 years with Al Di Meola, as Ernie Adams was, and you are playing with a bassist like Harrison Bankhead that has been for so many years with many of the best, including Roscoe Mitchell and Fred Anderson, well, you must admit that you are very lucky…
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Also, included in the performance at Constellation Lew Achenbach and his Jazz Occurrence will be live painting. How do you feel live painting during your performance adds to the overall creative experience?
Elbio Barilari & Julia Miller: Chronologically, Volcano Radar has been one of the first bands to participate in the “Jazz Occurrence” series organized by painter Lew Achenbach. We even recorded a live CD during the second “Jazz Occurrence” that took place in Aurora, Illinois, in 2014. We are in Achenbach’s book and we have worked together in many occasions. His presence adds another dimension to the concert experience and enhances the visual component of a musical performance, and an aspect that so often is neglected or forgotten: a concert is also and ALWAYS a show. “Flamenco Soundscapes” is not going to be another concert, it is a show with dance and visuals. Lew Achenbach’s “action painting” alongside the music makes perfect sense. It is also a very significant way of documenting a performance that also will be video recorded, audio recorded by Dave Zuchowski (another longtime collaborator) and photographed.
Chicago Jazz Magazine: Volcano Radar has presented performances at Constellation (3111 N. Western Ave, Chicago) in the past. Is there something about the venue that sparks creativity in a performance?
Elbio Barilari & Julia Miller: It is a great space because it programs some of the most creative music played in the world at the present moment.The production team of programmers, sound engineers, video artists and the staff are artists themselves, so they understand creative presentation, are very efficient and welcoming. Constellation and Volcano Radar have proven to be very compatible with each other.There is a zeitgeist around the place which fosters artistic creation.
Chicago Jazz Magzine: After June 7th does Volcano Radar have anything else coming up?
Elbio Barilari & Julia Miller: On Thursday June 15 we will be featured in duo at the experimental venue Resistor. This show will focus on brass & electronics, and vintage guitar synths. On Wednesday July 5 Volcano Radar will perform on Comfort Films series “Loud Bands and Silent Films”, a live film scoring series present at the Comfort Station in Logan Square.
We are also looking forward to the release of our 2nd studio CD featuring the incomparable Paquito D’Rivera: we cannot wait until people listen to Paquito playing “out” and making experimental music as brilliantly or even more brilliantly than he plays Latin jazz or classical music. Paquito D’Rivera is just unbelievable. This recording also features Sun Ra’s bass player Rollo Radford, Ernie Adams on drums, Darwin Noguera on keyboards, Julia Miller on synth guitar and Elbio Barilari on electric viola & guitar, sax, brass and & electronics. We will keep you posted!
For Tickets to the Show Visit Constellation-Chicago.com