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James Williams’s Magical Trio

James Williams’s Magical Trio Though he just turned 49 last week, pianist James Williams has already had a full career. As de facto music director for Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in the late 70s, he helped maintain the band’s standards until Wynton Marsalis arrived in ’81. Williams augmented the Messengers’ repertoire with compositions that hinted […]

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Women in the Director’s Chair International Film and Video Festival

Women in the Director’s Chair International Film and Video Festival The 19th annual Women in the Director’s Chair International Film and Video Festival, featuring narrative, documentary, animated, and experimental works by women, runs Friday, March 17, through Sunday, March 26. Screenings are at the Preston Bradley Center and the Women in the Director’s Chair Theater, […]

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Akira Kasai Dance Unit

The cliches of butoh are well-known: nude bodies painted white; twisting, often agonizingly slow movement; undercurrents of violence and despair. The 1959 piece acknowledged to have begun the movement–Tatsumi Hijikata’s Kinjiki, inspired by Yukio Mishima’s novel Forbidden Colors–included among other bizarre events the slaughter of a chicken. Hijikata, Kazuo Ohno, and Akira Kasai formed the […]

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Grooverider

GROOVERIDER As a DJ, Grooverider helped spark the fire that would eventually engulf the London club scene–legend has it he invented drum ‘n’ bass with partner Fabio at the popular club Heaven, and many of the genre’s biggest names started out under his influence or tutelage. He came fairly late to producing his own music, […]

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Words on Fire

WORDS ON FIRE, Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s Arts Exchange. Director-adapter Eric Rosen’s fluid, multitextured dramatic anthology of Chicago poets offers a strong but never sappy tribute to the likes of Gwendolyn Brooks and Louis Sullivan–whose autobiography sings as if it were verse. Fueled by Andre Pluess and Ben Sussman’s score, the nine ensemble members evoke a […]

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Aunt Nancy and Her Stories

Aunt Nancy and Her Stories, Corn Productions, at the Cornservatory. Storytelling is often a child’s entree into the magic of theater. Michelle Renee Thompson’s clever matinee piece wraps a modern framework around the Ananse myths of West Africa and other folktales, stories that convey moral truths through the follies of talking animals. Ten-year-old Meenah (Angie […]

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Chicago Symphony Orchestra

CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA While still in his 20s, avant-garde Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki shook up the concert world with eerily beautiful and aggressively dissonant compositions that, in retrospect, seem to connect the anxiety of the era between the world wars to the defiant rage of the 60s. His Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima (1960), […]

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Automated Faith Machine

Automated Faith Machine, Galileo Players, at Live Bait Theater. It’s an age-old dilemma: reason or faith? And when science fails to provide a logical means of unpacking the mysteries of the universe, it’s often up to faith to fill the gap. In the Galileo Players’ universe, science has always been the way to go–until now. […]

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The Real Zum Deutschen Eck

Dear Ms. Levine: Re: the article printed in the February 4, 2000, edition of the Chicago Reader entitled “Zum Deutschen Ick,” by Jeffrey Felshman: 1. Starting at the beginning of the article–referring to the restaurant as Zum Deutschen Ick is sickening. 2. His stating that he worked at Zum Deutschen Eck off and on from […]

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City File

Do male supremacists support gun control? The Chicago Crime Commission’s “Action Alert” (Fall/Winter) quotes Kirsten Lindberg, author of Girls Behind the Boys, Girls in Gangs, on why girls have taken on a stronger role in street gangs: “With easy access to guns, girls do not have to rely on their generally weaker physical strength to […]

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Barbaros Erkose

BARBAROS ERKOSE Turkish clarinet virtuoso Barbaros Erkose made his reputation playing tzigane, the melancholy, microtonal music of the Turkish Rom people, or Gypsies. But Rom music by its very nature is a blend, shaped by the gradual migration of nomads from India to Europe, and Erkose’s music reflects his own experience as well as that […]

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Ho-Hum Horror

Medea American Theater Company By Jack Helbig Most Greek tragedies leave me cold. The lack of onstage action coupled with lengthy monologues that deliver the same information over and over with slight variations makes it hard for me to empathize with the characters or get into their stories. The exception is Euripides’ Medea, a horrifying […]

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The Straight Dope

Here in Maine, the state legislature is taking up a bill to ban the use of the word squaw in place-names. Native Americans contend that it is a vulgarity, meaning prostitute or c*** rather than woman. Was this a general word that was used in many languages, or was it specific to one or two? […]

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Thurman Barker

THURMAN BARKER Thurman Barker rarely performs in Chicago, even though his talents were forged here. At age 17, after studying at the American Conservatory and playing pop jazz at the Playboy Club, he joined the pit orchestra at the Shubert Theatre, filling the percussion chair for musicals ranging from Ain’t Misbehavin’ to Hair. But he’d […]