The Nonsemble

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While we quite often make our way out to two or three gigs a week, it isn’t too often that we hit the ‘same’ Artists’ show(s) twice in a week. When JIMMY CHAMBERLIN COMPLEX tickets went on sale for their show at RESIDENT in DTLA a ways back, we instantly snapped up tickets.

We’d been listening to the PARABLES full-length intermittently since receiving the pre-release… playing it for fun, frolic and as one of the reference points for a project I’m helping with. We also have been in on a good number of shows at RESIDENT and I like the room, so it was an easy decision.

Oddly enough, the decision to attend the show at THE BLUE WHALE (which was announced a bit behind the Resident show, to take place a few days before) was just as easy. A few of our NONSEMBLE crew have also been really into Jimmy Chamberlin’s drum work since his days with that little garage band he helped form with his pal, Billy (Corgan), back home in Chicago, just around (well, actually – *exactly*) thirty years ago.

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Seeing another (earlier) Jimmy Chamberlin Complex show – at The Blue Whale no less – in a room we consider home away from home. All in. As always, my party and I arrived early enough to get a couple of bowls of ramen (The Blue Whale Jazz Club lies directly in the midst of an ever-buzzing Little Tokyo District, in Downtown Los Angeles) and were still close to the very front of what might have been the longest lines any of us had ever seen at this venue.

Good thing, as we had also all forgotten about the special gifts that the band had announced last-minute via socials. As soon as doors opened, I was handed one of five pieces of signed sheet music the band was giving to the first five people in line. I don’t know why they didn’t give away one for each song on the album, I also don’t know for certain which song I was given, since I gave mine to the superfan behind me, so that he wouldn’t cry all the way through the show! He had pictures on his phone of his ticket stubs and a signed CD from the last time he had seen The Jimmy Chamberlin Complex… over ten years ago!

Went in, sat in our favorite seats and waited. What little we’d seen and heard through the door of the sound check was no real warning. The show started direct – without the mosey meander warm-up we often hear at the top of Jazz shows. Jimmy and Billy Mohler have clearly worked very, very hard (heavy and well) in their Drum’n’Bass combos. The. Staccato nimble flitter fingers of Mohler’s upright double-bass riffs and the relaxed-frenetics of Chamberlin’s driven drumplay mingle and mangle like a bird and fish at play.

There is a darkly rock’n’roll subtext to the band’s stylistic (and progressively more) Jazz imbued tunes. At moments in their incredible set – I asked to myself, what would really happen if King Crimson actually HAD made a Jazz album?!


Not too far-fetched a fiction… the first LP from The Jimmy Chamberlin Complex (2005’s “Life Begins Again”) was far more controlled rock and roll. Their latest outing, THE PARABLE [MAKE Records 2018] is quite nearly a pure progressive Jazz endeavor. Guitarist, Sean Woolstenhulme is back with the band – laying and layering rhythm and lead guitars – in turn ‘to create something more environmental than obvious and the ‘New Guys’ Chris Speed and Randy Ingram – Saxophone and piano, respectively – sit and fit in perfectly.

The band presents as an extra-influenced Jazz Quintet and the two sets (primarily the new album, played through with mass amounts of extremely well-executed play/improvisation) were near perfect for the fans and the band!

Billy’s face seemed to say it all, throughout the night… They were INCREDIBLE live and hung about a few beats after the show, signing autographs and chatting with fans and friends from what seems to perhaps be friends and family from their Los Angeles homes!April 18, 2018