Bob Moses | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Bob Moses


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To understand the fiercely independent character and music of drummer-composer-mystic Bob Moses, it helps to consider that growing up in New York in the 1950s he lived in the same building as Art Blakey, Max Roach, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk; as a teenager he played duets with Charles Mingus, a family friend. Possessed of a style that balanced jazz sophistication and rock naivete, at 17 he formed the Free Spirits with rock guitarist Larry Coryell and the iconoclastic AmerInd saxist Jim Pepper, then joined the Gary Burton Quartet--arguably the first real fusion band. Moses anchored Pat Metheny's solo debut, then studied in Peru and Brazil, where he met fellow musical wild man Hermeto Pascoal (the encounter later fueled Moses's formulation of Mozamba, a musical philosophy aimed at creating a "ritualistic, celebratory, artistic and spiritual experience"). It says something about his youthful disregard for limits that when he played on Carla Bley's experimental "wordless opera" A Genuine Tong Funeral in 1967, he insisted on a pseudonymous credit ("Lonesome Dragon") on the grounds that the music was too tame. (Somehow Moses seems never to have crossed paths with Sun Ra, a meeting that probably would have ruptured the space-time continuum.) Moses has recorded several wonderful albums of accessible yet uncategorizable music; the latest, Nishoma (Grapeshot, 2000), bristles with emotion while wholly evading sentimentality. A ceaselessly inventive but always tasteful drummer, he turns the band as a whole into his instrument. For his first visit to Chicago in at least 20 years, Moses, who teaches at the New England Conservatory of Music, will play with a former student, Chicago reedist Doug Rosenberg. Friday and Saturday, April 2 and 3, 9:30 PM, Velvet Lounge, 21281/2 S. Indiana; 312-791-9050. On Sunday, April 4, Moses will present a drum clinic at Rhythm, 1108 W. Randolph. It starts at 2 PM; call 773-627-4279 for more information.

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