Dana Hall Quintet | Green Mill | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Dana Hall Quintet Soundboard Recommended Critics' Picks

When: Fri., Feb. 5, 9 p.m. and Sat., Feb. 6, 8 p.m. 2010

Though the recent Into the Light (Origin) is Dana Hall's debut as a bandleader, he's hardly shy about asserting himself. A veteran drummer who's played with the likes of Bobby Broom and Malachi Thompson and serves as musical director of the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, Hall favors a furious attack—but you never get the sense he's just hitting hard because he's got nothing to say. He swings with great nuance and negotiates the tempo changes built into many of the album's tunes with sublime grace. With an energy level worthy of Elvin Jones, he stokes the fires under his brawny, restless re­imagining of 60s postbop, giving his excellent band—trumpeter Terell Stafford, saxophonist Tim Warfield Jr., bassist Rodney Whitaker, and pianist Bruce Barth—plenty to respond to. The album opens with an explosive take on Herbie Hancock's "I Have a Dream," with Hall changing up the groove and working in fresh accents every couple of bars. The title track makes effective use of live and postproduction electronics, from abstract swooshes that pan back and forth to swirling, spacey effects on Stafford's trumpet, and on "Jabali" the horn men push into full-on free-jazz territory. Everyone's performances on Into the Light are excellent, but even more impressive is the strength of Hall's leadership—through every shift in style and approach, he's able to hold the band to a coherent musical identity. He performs here with the same quintet that appears on the album. —Peter Margasak

Price: $12

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