Archiving & Amplifying Chicago’s
Experimental Creativity

A panel discussion & concert investigating the influence of

the Malachi Ritscher Collection

curated & moderated by Marc Fischer

with panelists Tempestt Hazel, Peter Margasak, & Michael Zerang

& a live performance by Jim Baker, Jim Becker, Jim Dorling, & Michael Zerang


This discussion and performance will investigate the influence of Malachi Ritscher—the late Chicago-based documentarian, activist, artist, musician, photographer, and supporter of experimental and improvised music whose thousands of audio recordings fill the shelves of the Creative Audio Archive at Experimental Sound Studio.


Marc Fischer, Administrator of the initiative Public Collectors whose project for the 2014 Whitney Biennial focuses on Malachi Ritscher, will moderate a discussion alongside independent curator, writer and executive director Tempestt Hazel of Sixty Inches From Center, Peter Margasak—a longtime music writer for the Chicago Reader, and musician, composer and producer Michael Zerang who has curated and presented hundreds of events at Links Hall, Cafe Urbus Orbis and his own space The Candlestick Maker, which existed in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood from 2001-2005.


Following the discussion, there will be a musical performance by Jim Baker, Jim Becker, Jim Dorling, and Michael Zerang. It is worth noting that Jim Dorling will perform using an Indian harmonium that was once owned by Ritscher and was recently recovered from a Chicago consignment shop with the kind permission and assistance of Malachi's parents Dick and Betty Ann Ritscher.


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About the Curator/Moderator

Marc Fischer is a Chicago-based artist, publisher and teacher. In 2007 he created the initiative Public Collectors. Public Collectors is founded upon the concern that there are many types of cultural artifacts that public libraries, museums and other institutions and archives either do not collect or do not make freely accessible. Public Collectors organizes exhibitions and events, participates in exhibitions organized by others, creates exhibition opportunities for collectors, teaches, lectures, responds to research inquiries, and makes its own publications. Since 1998, Fischer has also been a member of the long-running artist group Temporary Services. Temporary Services has produced over 100 publications and a similar number of exhibitions and projects. In 2008 Temporary Services founded a publishing imprint and web-based store named Half Letter Press. Fischer was also a co-founder of Mess Hall, an experimental cultural center in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood.


About the Panelists & Performers

Jim Becker is a Chicago-based musician, producer, and sound engineer who has played around town and around the world since the 1980s. Jim has worked recording and engineering his own music and that of numerous other musicians. He has recorded and collaborated with a long list of rock, folk, experimental, and old time bands. Jim tours the US and Europe extensively, most recently with Califone and Iron & Wine. Jim plays guitar, banjo, filddle, mandolin, and is known for his original improvisation and use of effects. He draws from a wide range of inspirations, from classic rock to Appalachian old time music which he has played, studied, and taught since 1993. In addition to recording with bands, Jim keeps busy doing soundtrack work for both film and television.


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Tempestt Hazel is an independent curator, writer and executive director of Sixty Inches From Center, a Chicago-based online publication and archiving organization. Most recent curatorial projects include The Future’s Past for the Black Metropolis Research Consortium, The Tipping Point of Me and We for the Contemporary Arts Council, Serenade at Terrain Exhibitions and Recess at South Side Community Art Center.


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Peter Margasak has been a staff writer at the Chicago Reader since 1996, which is when he started writing the Post No Bills column. It ran until 2004 and was reborn a few years ago as his Reader blog. He'swritten about all kind of styles and music-related topics over the years,, and his work has also appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Spin, DownBeat, and on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. He appears on the third Friday of each month as a guest on WBEZ’s Radio M program. Since May of 2013 he's programmed the Frequency Series at Constellation, focusing on live performances contemporary classical and experimental music.


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Michael Zerang was born in Chicago, Illinois and is a first generation American of Assyrian decent. He has been a active musician, composer, and producer since 1976, focusing extensively on improvised music, free jazz, contemporary composition, puppet theater, experimental theater, and international musical forms. He is a long-standing member of The Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet, Friction Brothers, Brötzmann/McPhee/Kessler/Zerang Quartet, and Survival Unit III with Joe McPhee and Fred Lonberg-Holm. He has collaborated extensively with contemporary theater, dance, and other multidisciplinary forms and has received three Joseph Jefferson Awards for Original Music Composition in Theater, in 1996, 1998, and 2000. He has over eighty titles in his discography and has toured nationally and internationally to 33 countries since 1981 with and ever-widening pool of collaborators. He was the artistic director of the Link's Hall Performance Series from 1985-1989 where he produced over 300 concerts of jazz, traditional ethnic folk music, electronic music, and other forms of forward thinking music. He continued to produce concerts at Cafe Urbus Orbis from 1994-1996, and at his own space, The Candlestick Maker in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood, from 2001 - 2005.


About the Malachi Ritscher Collection

The Malachi Ritscher Collection represents the work of Chicago sound recordist Malachi Ritscher. Ritscher was a passionate supporter of Chicago's improvised music jazz scene. Although technically an amateur, Mr. Ritscher was well known in Chicago for making meticulous, high fidelity recordings at hundreds of live music events from the mid-1980s (perhaps earlier) until his death in 2006. This collection of recordings, now a part of the Creative Audio Archive, is a unique record of musical development in Chicago during a particularly fertile period, a history that resonates to the present.


About the Creative Audio Archive

The Creative Audio Archive (CAA) is a Chicago based center for the preservation and investigation of innovative and experimental sonic arts and music. CAA was formed in response to growing concerns over the general state of historical preservation of non-mainstream audio, in particular, recordings, print, and visual ephemera related to avant-garde and exploratory sound and music of the last five decades.


CAA is therefore conceived as a center to safeguard volatile materials, to transfer them to accessible and stable media, to catalogue and cross-reference these materials, and to make them accessible for study and, where feasible, presentation to the public at large. CAA seeks to bring together various existing collections and, where appropriate, to keep these collections intact as autonomous sub-archives.


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