Fri 11/16: Millie Jackson at the Venue at Horseshoe Casino
"Millie Jackson is best known for her jubilantly profane signifying: her 'Phuck U Symphony,' for instance, dedicated to bluenoses who found her material too raunchy, is a faux-classical piece, complete with orchestra and choir, whose libretto consists entirely of the words 'fuck you,'" writes David Whiteis. "But she's also a gifted deep-soul stylist who can tear out your heart or melt it, often in the same song: her torrid readings of pop standards such as 'Loving Arms' and Merle Haggard's 'If We're Not Back in Love by Monday' are underrecognized R&B classics." She's part of a knockout southern soul-blues bill that also includes Willie Clayton, Clarence Carter, and Peggy Scott-Adams.
Fri 11/16: Ensemble dal Niente with Chaya Czernowin at Nichols Concert Hall
Tonight Israeli composer Chaya Czernowin gets her first showcase concert in the Chicago area thanks to Ensemble dal Niente. "Her stark, rigorous, forward-looking music sometimes draws inspiration from natural phenomena and sometimes builds its explorations of abstract sound around small, contrasting gestures that she juxtaposes or collages together," I write this week. "Her 1996 piece Afatsim, from a superb Mode Records CD of the same name, seeks to translate the knots and twists of tree branches into music. No listener would be likely to infer that fact without Czernowin's program notes, but the image of a disfigured branch, once it's in your head, works well as a kind of an abstract score—strings and winds play dissonant, astringent flurries over spasmodic percussion, suggesting an ominous scene of barren trees lashed by wind." It's but one of the pieces on the intriguing program.
Sat 11/17: Om at Empty Bottle
"Om's fifth full-length and second with [Emil] Amos, Advaitic Songs (Drag City), also sees the addition of former Chicagoan Robert A.A. Lowe as a proper member, contributing backup vocals and tambura; the album also piles on guest musicians, who play cello, violin, flute, and tabla, invoking Middle Eastern and Asian traditions," writes Monica Kendrick. "The resulting stew of trippy space metal sounds a bit like Spirit Caravan, except juiced up with world music that frequently wouldn't sound out of place on a Loreena McKennitt album. Is Om overreaching? Oh yes, but I admire that more than underreaching."
Sat 11/17: Pinback at Metro
Leor Galil says that Pinback's new album Information Retrieved (Temporary Residence) "is imperfect, but charmingly so—Crow and Smith take risks and play with their formula. Sometimes it even works: the string arrangement on "True North" is a novelty for the band, as is the laid-back, almost jazzlike drumming on "Diminished," and overall they crank up the mathy precision, giving the music an energetic kick that clashes interestingly with its forlorn melodies. Most important, Crow and Smith sound revitalized—Information Retrieved bubbles with enough life that I'm sure Pinback have another great album in them, even if this isn't it."