Chicago Waves showcases a performance given by Carlos Niño & Miguel Atwood-Ferguson in late 2018 at Co-Prosperity Sphere, the Chicago base of the International Anthem label. The pair were in the city to link up with Makaya McCraven for a live performance of the Universal Beings album that they had all worked on together just under a year previously. However, while there are traces of Universal Beings to Chicago Waves - most keenly felt in how aesthetics from spiritual jazz fleck the corners of these tracks - the pair’s sound here is ultimately further out in the ether, largely operating at a place where new age, fourth world and free composition meet.
Jon Hassell is the artist who most immediately springs to mind when listening to Chicago Waves. In particular, the parts of Hassell’s work with skirt close to the meditative jazz of Sun Ra and Laraaji guide the questing and expansive atmospheres of many of the tracks. The fourth world has always been a more challenging terrain to traverse than many give it credit for, and as such there are also points when the music morphs into some rather unsettling drones. However, these sections never take over the work as a whole, and by and large Chicago Waves moves forward with a kind of ecstatic purpose. As if to solidify the welcoming principles which guide their practise, at the end of the performance the audience is invited to join with Niño and Atwood-Ferguson in an act of musical and spiritual camaraderie. It is a fitting end to this refreshing, utopian set of sonics.
Carlos Niño & Miguel Atwood-Ferguson’s Chicago Waves improvisation is a spiritualised voyage into the fourth world.