From concert and album reviews to feature articles, Third Coast Percussion is in the news.

We are fortunate to have garnered critical acclaim and recognition for so many of our performances and projects. See for yourself what the buzz is all about by reading what the press has to say! Browse reviews, articles, and much more below.

Chicago Recording Company Helps ‘Archetypes’ Earn Three Grammy Noms

January 5, 2022, by Daniel Patton

On the 2021 album Archetypes, Chicago Recording Company (CRC) engineer Jonathan Lackey helped transform an ambitious musical vision into a trio of Grammy nominations.  Archetypes is a collection of 12 “collaboratively composed” tracks by Brazilian guitarist Sérgio Assad, Chicago avant-garde classical ensemble Third Coast Percussion and Brazilian-American vocalist / multi-instrumentalist Clarice Assad, who is also Sérgio’s daughter. With an array of Latin accents, tricky beats and easy listening grooves, it sounds like Frank Zappa, King Crimson and Sérgio Mendes walked into a studio full of Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Johann Sebastian Bach. According to the Third Coast website, the songs are “portraits of timeless character types that appear in stories, legends, and myths throughout the world.” According to Lackey, who worked with independent engineer Dan Nichols and Cedille Records house engineer Bill Maylone to complete the pictures, the individual compositions have a way of reflecting moods that is “almost cinematic.”  “It opens with ‘The Rebel’, which…

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Chicagoan of the Year for Classical Music: Dan Nichols

, by Hannah Edgar

To date, Dan Nichols has never run a marketing campaign for his multimedia production company, Aphorism Studios. He doesn’t have to. Musicians call him. Even before he founded Aphorism in 2010, Nichols was one of Chicago’s fastest-rising recording engineers in a specific niche: contemporary classical music. Since then, musicians like flutist Nathalie Joachim, Spektral Quartet, Ensemble Dal Niente, and the vocal quartet Quince have all called upon Nichols and his growing team to engineer their albums. “All of these artists are trying to recalibrate classical and new music to be inclusive and have a broad appeal,” Nichols says. “We don’t draw genre-specific boxes around ourselves; we don’t want to be part of the problem with classical and new music. We want to be what moves it forward.” To date, five Aphorism-engineered albums have been nominated for Grammys — most recently “Archetypes,” a freewheeling collaboration between Third Coast Percussion, guitarist Sérgio…

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Album review: Archetypes

August 16, 2021, by Graham Rickson

Archetypes is an engaging act of musical collaboration, four each of its twelve sections written by Brazilian guitarist Sérgio Assad and his daughter Clarice, the remaining numbers composed by the four members of Chicago’s Third Coast Percussion. The aims are lofty, the archetypes selected to reflect the commonality of human experience and culture at a time when the world feels more fractured than ever. Though it’s very easy to enjoy this disc as a sequence of neatly sketched character pieces, the group’s sound enhanced by piano, guitar and Clarice’s vocals. The opener, Clarice’s “Rebel”, kicks off with a flurry of attitudinal drum rolls and cymbal crashes, and Sergio’s “Innocent” is a lovely portrait of wide-eyed innocence The sonorities throughout are so crisp, so clear; I’m fascinated by the guitar triplets and marimba semiquavers overlaid at the start of David Skidmore’s “Lover”, and the calm solemnity of “Ruler”, written by Peter Martin.…

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Hitting the Sweet Spot: Third Coast Percussion at Grand Teton Music Festival

August 13, 2021, by Thomas May

Week 4 of the Grand Teton Music Festival continued with an enthusiastically received performance by Chicago-based Third Coast Percussion making their Festival debut. Presented without intermission, the concert unfolded with unflagging energy as each member of the quartet — David Skidmore, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin, and Sean Connors — took turns introducing the selections. The entire program consisted of living composers — indeed, composers with whom Third Coast has collaborated. Their style of music making overall synthesizes a kind of surgical precision with frenetic spontaneity — and that intriguing blend is mirrored by their exciting visual performance, a virtuoso choreography that is functional and at the same time abstractly alluring. These are artists who make music by hitting things, their bodies acting, reacting, incorporating the sounds they produce. At times the performance resembled a wild physics experiment trying to calibrate new sources of energy. Expressivity as energy, in different shapes and contours, certainly characterized their renditions…

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Album review: Archetypes

July 6, 2021, by Rick Perdian

An archetype is an easily recognizable, readily stereotyped, sort of person. In their new release, Grammy Award-winning Third Coast Percussion joins with celebrated Brazilian guitarist Sérgio Assad and his daughter - vocalist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Clarice Assad - to portray in music twelve of these universal characters that defy time and place. Whether they be a magician, hero, lover or caregiver, the six composer/performers have created fascinating musical vignettes that capture the essence of the individuals that they depict. Third Coast Percussion was founded by Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin and David Skidmore to explore and expand the limitless sonic possibilities of the percussion repertoire. Through their concerts and residency projects with engineers, architects and astronomers, the ensemble has gathered an international following. It was the first percussion ensemble to win a chamber music Grammy Award for their 2016 Cedille label debut, Third Coast Percussion | Steve Reich and with Archetypes they might…

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Album review: Archetypes

June 30, 2021, by Andrew Timar

For 15 years, Grammy Award-winning Third Coast Percussion has been praised for the “rare power” (The Washington Post) of its records filled with “an inspirational sense of fun and curiosity” (Minnesota Star-Tribune). The Chicago-based quartet currently serves as ensemble-in-residence at Denison University.  On Archetypes Third Coast has invited celebrated Brazilian guitarist Sérgio Assad and his vocalist/composer/pianist daughter Clarice Assad to collaborate on an album with an intriguing conceit: to conjure up a dozen contrasting universal human archetypes in music. In 12 movements, each from three to just over five minutes, archetypal figures such as magician, jester, rebel, lover, hero and explorer take their turn at the thematic centre.  Instrumentally and stylistically the music comfortably inhabits a double frame: contemporary percussion chamber music is infused with harmonically adventurous Latin jazz, acoustic guitar and occasional vocalise. The results of this genuine collaboration can be extraordinary. Archetypes IV:  The Lover for instance, in its restless and surprising…

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Album review: Archetypes

, by Jonathan Blumhofer

Third Coast Percussion and the father-daughter team of Sérgio and Clarice Assad join forces for Archetypes, a new recording from the Chicago-based Cedille label that explores — in concise, innovative fashion — specific personality types. The album’s concept is straightforward: there are a dozen tracks, four written by each of the Assads and the remaining four composed by members of Third Coast (David Skidmore, Peter Martin, Robert Dillon, and Sean Connors). Each movement evokes, in one or more ways, a character: rebel, orphan, lover, jester, etc. The shortest installment (“Jester”) runs just under three minutes; the longest (“Sage”) clocks in at just over five. Stylistically, the disc runs the gamut from world and folk-inflected gestures to jazz, minimalism, and whatever else in between. It’s nothing that pushes the ear too hard one way or another. That said, the six composers at work here manage to fulfill the album’s conceit creatively —…

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Album review: Archetypes

May 21, 2021, by Laurence Vittes

This very cool collection of tours de force takes a random selection of archetypal themes composed and collaboratively performed by Clarice and Sérgio Assad and Third Coast Percussion – Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin and David Skidmore – and owes as much to modern jazz as to classical traditions. In each of the 12 self-contained pieces the players are always exploring where their shifting combinations of vastly different timbres and lyrical proclivities will take them, often just letting the tides carry them away. The individual playing is so intensely magnetic at times that it cries out for video. The album opens with Rebel, in which a minute-long series of drum riffs designed to demo dynamic speed and tight bass is followed by stretches where the players seem hypnotised themselves. There are classical sightings at times, such as a chaconne of sorts in Ruler and some powerful romantic gestures in Magician, which is pretty…

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Album review: Archetypes

May 19, 2021, by James Manheim

It's rare, especially in the music broadly characterized as classical, to find music that's genuinely collaborative at its core. For the most part, collaborations ornament the work of one creative figure with contributions from another, but this release from the father-and-daughter Latin jazz guitarists Sérgio and Clarice Assad and the avant-garde Third Coast Percussion Ensemble manages the trick. It helps that the musicians' backgrounds overlap somewhat; Clarice has a composition master's degree, and Third Coast, which played clubs earlier in its career, certainly is literate in jazz rhythms and forms, but this does not prepare the listener for how confidently this music flows. The 12 archetypes of the title are, in the words of the players, "ancient, universal patterns of human behavior," with each piece aptly evoking "The Magician," "The Jester," "The Hero," and so on. The various elements of style here are woven together in distinctive ways that suggest the idea being portrayed. Some of the pieces are composed by Sérgio or Clarice,…

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Album review: Archetypes

May 13, 2021, by Clive Paget

Contemporary music can be a prickly affair, but for those driven by the pleasure principle it’s nice to know there are some seriously thoughtful composers out there offering new music to listeners looking for a good time. That’s certainly the case with Archetypes, a crowd-pleasing collaboration between Sérgio and Clarice Assad and Chicago-based quartet Third Coast Percussion (TCP). Sérgio Assad won his first Latin Grammy back in 2002 and has been twice nominated for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. His daughter, Brazilian-American composer and performer Clarice, spans the worlds of classical, world music, pop, and jazz. TCP members (Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin, and David Skidmore), both play and compose; they are as comfortable in the world of Philip Glass as they are taking on Missy Mazzoli, Danny Elfman, or Georg Friedrich Haas. The album is all about finding common ground, seeking inspiration in objects or figures that crop up…

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