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Douglas Ewart's "Crepuscule"




Throughout his career, saxophonist and instrument inventor Douglas Ewart has incorporated poetry, movement, and even costumes into his performances. Two years ago, he pulled off a full-fledged multimedia event--in a workshop and concert that used the rhythms of basketball for inspiration and percussion--but this weekend, if all goes well, he'll top even that. In the Chicago premiere of Crepuscule, a piece previously presented in Philadelphia and Minneapolis, Ewart will position a series of performance "pods" throughout Jackson Park. Some of these will comprise groupings of similar instruments, like reeds or percussion, while others will represent disciplines like dance, theater, puppetry, and the Brazilian martial art form capoeira; each will contain a mix of professional artists and students. Each pod will perform on its own and then eventually interact with the others in what amounts to an exercise in shifting antiphony, and audience members may adjust the balance if they so choose by wandering around the park. Ewart will draw the pods together for the piece's final "movement," at twilight--aka crepuscule. (The title also refers to Ewart's interest in recycling physical materials: many of the kids will perform on percussion instruments they've constructed out of discarded items like crutches, oars, Frisbees, and fence slats, which, Ewart points out, are in the "twilight" of their originally intended usefulness.) This should be a highlight of the evening, and not just because it's the finale: Ewart can coax serene spirituality out of even the most chaotic music, as he demonstrated most recently at a post-Jazz Fest jam at the Velvet Lounge. With a quiet sopranino statement, he completely refocused the blaring energy of the previous three soloists and left the audience rapt with wonder. This free event definitely fits as comfortably under "happening" as it does under "music." Sunday, 5 PM, Columbia Basin, Jackson Park, 6401 S. Stony Island; 312-427-1676.


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Lauren Deutsch.

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