Junius Paul - Ism 2xLP
Ism opens audaciously with the spiritual mic-check "You Are Free To Choose," a track that features Junius Paul alongside Vincent Davis (drums), Justin Dillard (piano), and Corey Wilkes (horns). This is by no accident. In many ways, "You Are Free To Choose" captures the spirit of Junius Paul's artistic roots. Corey, Justin, and Vincent were among the multigenerational cadre of Chicago musicians present when Junius chose to follow his own path of creative discovery at the storied Velvet Lounge on the South Side of the city back in October of 2002.
Though the origins of his craft go back to playing in church, his creative instrumental voice really developed during jam sessions at clubs like The Velvet alongside members of the AACM, or Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. It was iron sharpening iron, the most natural form of knowledge transfer. As Junius pushes forward as a creative musician, he is careful to carry with him the spirit and the knowledge he's gathered from those who have come before him. He is very literally a bridge between generations of the Chicago vanguard, currently playing in Makaya McCraven's combo and in the Art Ensemble of Chicago, in addition to fronting his own band.
One morning on tour with the Art Ensemble in Australia, Roscoe Mitchell called Junius's hotel room and asked if he was coming to breakfast. He was. "That will never get old," he shared with me on the other line. To play in the Art Ensemble of Chicago is the culmination of "a dream." One that started at The Velvet Lounge nearly twenty years ago while watching his heroes. "What they taught me is that you can be yourself, as long as you're badass at it." Ism is a testament to Junius Paul's journey towards himself. And he's graciously invited us along for the ride.