Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

I Need A Double Dozen: Chris Corsano’s Favourite Albums

As he releases two new albums, the prolific drummer, improviser, and serial collaborator Chris Corsano takes Stewart Smith through 13 favourite records, from punk to jazz to his year spent listening only to Curtis Mayfield

Photo by Rachel Orcutt

A strong contender for the title of hardest working improviser in the business, Chris Corsano has brought his cephalopodic drum skills to projects with Björk, Thurston Moore, Jim O’Rourke, Akira Sakata, Kim Gordon, Joe McPhee, Jandek, Mette Rasmussen, Ben Chasny, Sir Richard Bishop, Bill Nace, Paul Flaherty, Heather Leigh, Michael Flower, John Butcher, Evan Parker, Farida Amadou and innumerable others. In recent years, he’s worked closely with saxophonist Zoh Amba and guitarist Bill Orcutt, bringing them together on last year’s luminous The Flower School

Corsano has recently dropped both Septendecim, the burning debut from his quartet with bassist Darin Gray and Wilco guitar and percussion wizards Nels Cline and Glenn Kotche, and The Key (Became the Important Thing [and Then Just Faded Away​]​), a solo album that fuses his love of free improvisation with punk and noise. 

On the latter, Corsano plays guitar, bass, prepared and unprepared drums, building on the virtual band approach of his 2010 CD-R High And Dry. Several tracks feature him playing basslines on a string stretched across a drum head. “It’s kind of in the same territory sonically as a bass, so I’m trying to play these basslines, which are percussive, and I’m playing with sticks,” he explains. “I’m always trying to get halfway in between percussion and melody, the way that an upright bass is amazing at. Upright bass has been really influential in how I drum. So, I’m always trying to modify things just because it’s fun.” 

Speaking to tQ from his current base in Chicago, Corsano offers a Bakers Dozen that encompasses his love of jazz, free improvisation, noise, hardcore, no wave, reggae, gamelan, Burundi drumming and folk: “I needed a double dozen!”  

Septendecim by Corsano’s Saccata Quartet is out now via We Jazz, and The Key (Became the Important Thing [and Then Just Faded Away​]​) is out now via Drag City. To begin reading Corsano’s Baker’s Dozen, click ‘First Record’ below

First Record

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