Bruce Eisenbeil Trio | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Bruce Eisenbeil Trio


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Most guitarists playing free jazz and improvised music these days favor either relentless blammo or spare plinkety-plonk. Right now the phenomenal Boston guitarist Joe Morris (who recorded an album with the local DKV Trio for Okka Disk last week) navigates the space between these polarities better than anyone--but watch out for New York's Bruce Eisenbeil. On his debut album, Nine Wings (CIMP), he keeps his tone beautifully clean, eschewing flash and concentrating instead on the unpredictable course of his twisted solos. Despite the clarity of his sound, his lines are anything but linear; alternating between languor and anguish, his lengthy statements move freely but purposefully. His mildly engaging freebop tunes are clearly designed more to nudge the soloists--alto saxophonist Rob Brown and drummer Lou Grassi--than to stick in your head, though the pretty ballad "In Retrospect" is nothing if not memorable. While I find Grassi's contributions distracting and occasionally unfocused--a jumble of haphazard cymbal splash and falling-down-stairs tom-tom clatter--Brown is superb. In his work with pianist Matthew Shipp, bassist William Parker, and Morris, and on a pair of albums as a leader, he's assimilated the buoyancy of Ornette Coleman and the distended Bird-isms of Jimmy Lyons into a strikingly original voice that can serve Eisenbeil's compositions while retaining its character. This is Brown's first Chicago appearance. Sunday, 8 PM, Unity Temple, 875 Lake, Oak Park; 708-383-8873. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.

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