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Black Diamond

Tuesdays on the Terrace: Black Diamond

Summer Tuesdays come alive on the MCA’s Anne and John Kern Terrace Garden with free music highlighting artists from Chicago’s internationally renowned jazz community. Led by two saxophonists, Hunter Diamond and Artie Black, the quartet known as Black Diamond brings two sets of original songs from their upcoming album to be released in 2023.

About the Artists

Black Diamond thrives on the chemistry and compositions of saxophonists Artie Black and Hunter Diamond. The two musicians met while studying under David Baker and Tom Walsh at Indiana University. A mutual admiration for the collaborative recordings of saxophonists Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh led them to experiment with their own two-tenor palette, and it quickly became apparent that the variance in their tonal and stylistic approaches created a captivating sense of balance. This dynamic has provided them the opportunity to write for the group they lead, Black Diamond, in a way that is both deeply personal and instrumentally uncommon. In Chicago, the band has been featured in residency at Andy's Jazz Club, the Drake Hotel, and the Whistler. Other performances include the 2018 Chicago Jazz Festival, and associations with the Jazz Institute of Chicago, Sounds of the City Workshop, the Anagram Series at Elastic Arts, and the Chicago Jazz Composers Collective. Recently, the band has been on three U.S. tours to Florida, Pennsylvania, and the Pacific-Northwest. As active music educators, the group has collectively been featured as guest clinicians and lecturers of jazz and ethnomusicology at Slippery Rock University (Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania), Whitworth University (Spokane, Washington), Pacific Lutheran University (Tacoma, Washington), and Knox College (Galesburg, Illinois). August 2017 marked the release of Black Diamond's debut recording, Mandala, on Shifting Paradigm Records. Featuring bassist Matt Ulery and drummer Neil Hemphill, the album contains nine original works by the duo. The title is inspired by the Vajrayana Buddhist practice of sand painting. The intent of a mandala is to form a representation of the enlightened mind through intricate patterning of layered grains of colored sand. The music on Mandala represents their grains laid; their mandala composed. Mandala was listed as an editor's pick in Downbeat magazine in August 2017. Black Diamond's second album, Chant (Shifting Paradigm Records), was recorded live at the Whistler in Chicago and released in March 2019 on Shifting Paradigm Records. This recording built on the momentum of Mandala and further crystalized the band's sound. The nature of the live recording leads to a heightened level of energy and collective improvisation. In praise of Chant, the Chicago Reader described Black Diamond's ability "...to affirm the importance of discovering the commonalities between mediums that are bound by creativity and growth." The most recent release from Black Diamond, A Held Space (Woolgathering Records) features Black and Diamond in a series of improvisational duets—the raw material of which was edited and produced to create a compositional collage that represents their longstanding chemistry. Jazz Journal UK wrote that "Black and Diamond's augmenting of their in-the-moment work stops short of straightforward overdubbing and has the effect of deepening their spontaneity and the acute degree to which they are a meeting of musical minds." The band's newest quartet recording is slated for release in early 2023.