No Chicago band has inspired more critical applause in the last decade than Edward Wilkerson's 8 Bold Souls. That kind of attention stems in part from the rangy palette of Wilkerson's arrangements and the refreshing solos and exuberant interplay of the instrumentalists, but even more from the brilliantly crafted audacity of the concept. It has plenty of precedent: like so many of their colleagues in the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, the Souls use their music to telescope the history of jazz, connecting its African roots to the techniques and creative concerns of post-60s experimentation. But by plugging into the sonic imagery of early Ellington, Wilkerson added a new wrinkle, and in the process managed to frame the musical discussion in familiar and delightful terms. Although they promise a new CD in the near future, the Souls haven't released anything in nearly three years, and their impressive expanded repertoire remains undocumented; if you haven't heard one of their infrequent recent gigs, you may well encounter an entire evening of "brand-new" works. But rest assured; the Souls still count on such individuated sounds as Mwata Bowden's clarinet, Aaron Dodd's tuba, Naomi Millender's cello, and of course the sweet grit of their leader's galvanizing tenor to direct and shape the compositions. As a result, even their newest pieces provoke instant recognition. This appearance serves as a bon voyage party--the Souls are headed off on tour. With any luck, it will also provide a boost for the beleaguered HotHouse performance space. Sunday, 8 PM, HotHouse, 1565 N. Milwaukee; 235-2334.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Bruce Powell.