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Guy Klucevsek & Phillip Johnston



It doesn't get much respect in the land where Lawrence Welk was once a superstar, but the accordion is the cornerstone of a surprisingly wide variety of styles around the world: zydeco, tango, chanson, conjunto, and so on. Accordion master Guy Klucevsek has for years been dedicated to exploring these traditions and the overlaps between them while working constantly to extend the instrument's already broad repertoire. He's performed music by key figures in the New York downtown scene--including John Zorn, Fred Frith, Anthony Coleman, and Dave Douglas--and by contemporary classical composers like Alvin Lucier and William Duckworth. Additionally, he's the founder of the Accordion Tribe, an international quintet that explores the instrument's orchestral possibilities. His latest project is a duo with saxophonist Phillip Johnston--in the 80s a founding member of the great pomo neoswing outfit the Microscopic Septet and more recently a composer for film, theater, and dance. On their new album, Tales From the Cryptic (Winter & Winter), his assertive yet lighter-than-air tone on alto and soprano blend well with the accordion's billowy textures. The material, nearly all original, features plenty of ultraprecise unison playing and tightly measured improvisation. They cover all sorts of moods--from the twisted circus music of "Am-Scray," where they prove they can think on their feet between chunks of carny reels, to the delicate Parisian feel of "The Gift" to odd bits of klezmer and tango--without sounding like they're checking them off a list. There's also a beguiling reinvention of Strauss's "Blue Danube" waltz as "Blue Window," in which they wildly elasticize the 3/4 time, making it roll like waves. This is the duo's Chicago debut. Saturday, October 4, 2 PM, Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington; 312-744-6630.

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