Posted inArts & Culture

Anthony Braxton

Anthony Braxton inspires some listeners to heights of aesthetic ecstasy and utterly mystifies others. As a mutlisaxophonist and multiclarinetist, he ranges from exhilarating reinvestigations of bop repertoire to unaccompanied, distant abstraction. He’s also a composer–of songs for jazz combos, of huge symphonic works, of extended, flowing, lyrical pieces, and of some of the most thorny […]

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Wild Men!/Alone at the Beach

WILD MEN! at Body Politic Theatre ALONE AT THE BEACH Griffin Theatre Company When the Friends of the Zoo stopped performing regularly almost two years ago, the Chicago theater scene lost something vital. This talented troupe of singer-comedians had injected new life into musical theater and satire at a time when most comedy troupes were […]

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Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Iris Dement, David Bromberg, Jody Stetcher & Kate Brislin

Paul Simon only discovered Ladysmith Black Mambazo in the same sense that Columbus discovered America, of course, but credit him with helping bring their ghostly and irresistible a cappella groove to the rest of the world. The South African group–a phalanx of seven singers who croon, moan, whisper, dance, and shuffle their way through extremely […]

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The Straight Dope

I can’t understand why this wouldn’t be a cure for someone infected with HIV, the AIDS virus: put them in one of those plastic bubbles like they use for people with genetic immunological deficiences. No germs, no opportunistic infections, no AIDS, right? –Bob Kernell If only it were that simple. There are a couple problems […]

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Ciosoni

Ciosoni–Esperanto for “sounds of all kinds”–is an unusual chamber trio devoted to the music of our time. The odd combination of clarinet, flute, and double bass makes for a team in search of a repertoire, but the trio’s technical prowess and rising renown are piquing the interest of a diverse group of venturesome composers. Already […]

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The City File

Why are your shelves full of identical old books? For $29.95 each, Hammacher Schlemmer’s catalog (Spring) offers videocassette covers with “a hand-painted spine that actually resembles a classic leather-bound volume, with the name ‘Ruskin’, the 19th-century writer, printed on it.” “Sometimes people just don’t want what other people (including experts like us) think is good […]

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Couchpiece/Coming Back

COUCHPIECE and COMING BACK Organic Theater Company Greenhouse Couchpiece and Coming Back, two one-act plays at the Organic Theater Company Greenhouse, make for an odd double bill. Both pieces are briskly directed, both have moments of pathos wrapped up in irreverence, and both make strong political statements. But they’re also quite different. Couchpiece doesn’t have […]

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Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Easley Blackwood seems to be the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s favorite local contemporary composer. In 1971 the CSO commissioned him to write his Fourth Symphony for its 80th anniversary. Now his Fifth Symphony is ready–this time for the CSO’s centennial. Over the years the longtime University of Chicago faculty member (and polymath)–who’s studied composition under Messiaen […]