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Posted inArts & Culture

Jazz Idiom Big Band With Don Menza

Don Menza writes arrangements that would make almost any band sound good. And the Jazz Idiom Big Band–directed by one of Chicago’s most adept jazz orchestra leaders, Mayo Tiana–can make almost any arrangement sound good. So you can’t go far wrong with this one. Menza, who will perform with the band in the concert’s second […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The City File

A metaphor any profession would love. Alaistair Gordon in Greenkeeping (May/June): “So far no Gropius of green has emerged from the architectural compost heap.” Where violence is not news. “The summer after my stepson was shot, I taught a class [at Harold Washington College] that ended at 9 p.m.,” writes Robin Herndobler in In These […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Industrial Revolution

MY OWN FUTURISM: THE DRAWINGS OF FORTUNATO DEPERO at the Block Gallery of Northwestern University Italian Futurism was born of an urge to destroy. In 1909 poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti set the movement’s first manifesto on the front pages of Le Figaro: “We will destroy museums, libraries, and fight against moralism . . . and […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Derives (Driftings)

DERIVES (DRIFTINGS) Compagnie Philippe Genty International Theatre Festival at Steppenwolf Theatre A little man in a trench coat and fedora shoots heavenward like a balloon, gets pulled up short by his string, and is hauled in by another, larger version of himself. A huge gray blob with tentacles like arms gives birth to a naked […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Execution of Justice

Ten years ago last week a murder took place in my home. Someone broke in, raped and bludgeoned the baby-sitter, and left her bound and dead facedown in the water filling the bathtub. A fire the intruder then set in the basement filled the house with smoke, but a fireman who broke through a second-story […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Dreamy

DREAMY Cardiff Giant There’s little question that Cardiff Giant is honestly committed to its work: improv-based collaborative plays written and performed by ensemble members. There’s also little doubt about its professionalism and attention to detail; in Dreamy, the company’s most recent production, the set is modest but inventive, the technical crew is pretty sharp, and […]

Posted inArts & Culture

International Theatre Festival of Chicago

In Chicago, even-numbered years bring the odd productions from around the world to town. At least they have since 1986, when Jane Nicholl Sahlins, Bernard Sahlins, and Pam Marsden first launched this sometimes controversial, visionary biennial event. When the festival was founded, Chicago was routinely omitted from major national theater tours, whose producers gauged that […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Charles Fambrough Quartet

With extended tenures in bands led by pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Art Blakey–powerhouse percussionists both–bassist Charles Fambrough has learned more than a thing or two about holding the time together. He’s also apprenticed himself to the rhythms and song forms of Brazil, courtesy of Airto Moreira–whose band he anchored in the mid-70s–and gotten a […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Circus Oz

As a kid I hated circuses. The ringmaster was always making a lot of noise about nothing. The animal acts always looked like exercises in sadism. And the clowns, that band of bozos, never seemed funny. My attitude changed last fall when I checked out the eye-pleasing, mind-blowing Cirque du Soleil from Montreal. Now, part […]

Posted inArts & Culture

James Moody

Standard forms of musical logic don’t apply at all to James Moody’s art; instead, his improvisations (on the flute and tenor and alto saxes) depend on bop logic. He’ll transform the ballad “Autumn Leaves” into a fast rabble-rouser, the rabble-rouser “Cherokee” into a ballad, or he’ll play “Beer Barrel Polka” not as a joke but […]