Alternatives | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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I've been waiting to plug these guys for a while, and now's the time: all proceeds from this performance go toward defraying the mountain of medical expenses incurred when Renee Haebich (the wife of the band's bassist, Ken Haebich) suffered a brain aneurysm. Baritone saxophonist Barry Winograd (perhaps better known for hosting WXRT's Jazz Transfusion) has been applying the term "alternative" to each of the ensembles he's led over the last several years, from his quintet the Alternative Five to a trio and now this 16-piece big band. Truth in advertising is not Winograd's forte--but that should come as good news to devotees of the solid swing and tiered textures that distinguish the classic jazz orchestra. Polished, lively, and in possession of the extrovert soloists the style demands (saxist Rich Corpolongo, trumpeter Ric Bendel), the band plays hard and tight on stock arrangements. But Winograd is after bigger game, and he has spiced the repertoire with new arrangements by a few select writers (and some rarely heard Ellington transcriptions). This too fits the tradition of a Monday-night "rehearsal band"; indeed, the only thing alternative about Winograd's wind machine involves the current paucity of such bands in Chicago. In resurrecting the once-popular idea of assembling top-notch players into a once-a-week orchestra, he deserves credit for stepping into the breach. Monday, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 525-2508.

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

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