Claude Bolling Big Band | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Claude Bolling Big Band

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You have to look harder than you did in the 40s--or the 60s, or the 80s, for that matter--but you can still find some pretty good big bands in this country. So why look overseas, in particular to France, one of the few European nations that doesn't have a star-studded, state-supported radio jazz orchestra? Well, mainly because that's where Claude Bolling is. The popular pianist, composer, and arranger has had a string of successes with his best-selling classical-jazz works (Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano, for Cello and Jazz Piano Trio, etc) that has earned him the chance to indulge his weakness for the American jazz orchestras of the 40s and 50s. Bolling's big band, as heard on a quartet of American albums, is a solid enterprise very much in the French jazz tradition. That means plenty of well-grounded jazz feeling (the French were the first folks outside America to embrace, extol, and successfully create jazz); it also means a touch of the dandiness that has infected French music since the Rococo period. But the band does swing, sometimes pretty hard, and it features a number of quite solid soloists. Sunday, 7:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 929-5959.

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