Clusone Trio | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Clusone Trio




There's no better introduction to the wild and woolly Dutch jazz scene than the Clusone Trio, with drummer Han Bennink (a patriarch of the scene), cellist Ernst Reijseger (a second-generation master), and reedist Michael Moore (an American transplant). Although he's the drummer on Eric Dolphy's Last Date, Bennink is best known for his wild free-jazz associations: Derek Bailey, Peter Brštzmann, Misha Mengelberg, and more recently Dave Douglas and Myra Melford. He can swing like a mofo; he's infamous for his theatricality and mischievousness, and both loved and loathed for his relentless loudness. Reijseger can make the cello do just about anything; at any moment he's likely to play a walking bass line, strum the instrument like a guitar, pluck a spiky pizz, or bow up a mad screech. Moore is remarkably lyrical on both clarinet and alto saxophone; when the group plays it straight he's the melodic force, but he's no slouch when it comes time to raise a ruckus. But it's not just the varied experience of these individuals that makes the group an ideal representative of the Dutch scene--it's the way the three distinct personalities commingle and clash, the way the music blends improvisation and composition, and the way pop standards, free jazz, South African kwela music, cabaret, and other styles jostle one another democratically, as on last year's terrific Love Henry (Gramavision). In performance the trio likes spontaneous medleys, and the album's ten-part opener includes music by Irving Berlin, Lee Konitz, Johnny Mercer, and Kurt Weill, as well as by the members. Sometimes they'll play a standard straight, sometimes they'll gleefully fuck it up; some tunes are played to completion, some are relayed in fragments. Any member can signal a transition by playing a snippet of the next tune, and the other two either join in or reject the choice. In its Chicago debut the trio will perform two sets interspersed with solo sets by Ab Baars and Peter Van Bergen, two of the most important Dutch saxophonists. Sunday, 5 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Ernst Reijseger and Han Bennink photo by Nick White.

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