PETER BROTZMANN CHICAGO TENTET PLUS ONE
The pioneering, domineering, and often breathtaking German saxophonist Peter Brotzmann deserves a key to the city. He’s forged strong ties with Chicago’s new-music community during a series of visits over the last five years–most significantly with reedist Ken Vandermark, bassist Kent Kessler, and drummer Hamid Drake, who’ve proved exceptionally responsive to Brotzmann’s careening, guttural bluster. Those relationships provide the grid for this ever-expanding band, the most exciting of his Chicago projects. In January 1997 Brotzmann put together an octet with Vandermark, Kessler, Drake, saxist Mars Williams, trombonist Jeb Bishop, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, and drummer Michael Zerang; he returned later that year to make it a ten-piece, adding Swedish reed man Mats Gustafsson and east-coast multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee to the mix. This time around Japanese trumpeter, electronics maven, and former model Toshinori Kondo will make his Chicago debut in McPhee’s place; hyperexpressive New York bassist and bandleader William Parker will appear in the role of “plus one,” expanding the string section of Brotzmann’s brouhaha to three players. It’s worth considering this crowded ensemble in terms of “sections,” too, because despite the forceful leadership and formal structures Brotzmann brings, the music’s real resonance arises from interactions between and within small subsets of the group. Vandermark and Williams have worked together in so many varied bands this decade that even their wildest flights are still clearly dialogues; Lonberg-Holm’s switch-hitting cello can leave the strings to team up with saxes or brass; Drake and Zerang, who perform as a percussion duo several times a year, employ rhythmic approaches that fit together like yin and yang. This performance, which caps off the third annual Empty Bottle Festival of Jazz & Improvised Music, should also warm up the tentet for its trip to Quebec the following weekend for the renowned Festival International Musique Actuelle Victoriaville. Sunday, 5 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. NEIL TESSER
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Laurence M. Svirchev.