Ism opens audaciously with the spiritual mic-check You Are Free To Choose, a track that features bassist 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 in 2002.
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 a handful of combos with Makaya McCraven (who produced several of the tracks on Ism) as well as a few of Roscoe Mitchell’s working groups – most notably the Art Ensemble of Chicago – in addition to fronting his own band.