DANIEL LEVIN | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Daniel Levin's recordings offer an incomplete accounting of his versatility. On the cellist's two albums as a leader, both with a quartet including vibes, trumpet, and bass, the music can be intense, despite its chamber-jazz restraint, but the instrumentation lends itself best to carefully woven melodies and fine gradations of texture. Levin appears on three discs as a sideman, most notably Sounds (Clean Feed) by free-jazz-friendly alto saxist Rob Brown--but Brown recruited him to help explore a "quieter, more exotic" idiom. Levin can be aggressive, though: in the unnamed, unrecorded trio playing here this weekend, with Brown and local drummer Tim Daisy (in a spot previously held by Gerald Cleaver), he draws on the earthy, adventurous 70s music of Henry Threadgill's trio Air and cellist Abdul Wadud, an invaluable foil to Arthur Blythe and Julius Hemphill. Levin is the group's main writer but not its front man--he functions more like a bassist, anchoring Brown's free-jazz acrobatics. The trio's two sets may also include tunes by Brown and Daisy and some fully improvised material. Brown also plays the Pitchfork Music Festival (see page 2) on Saturday as part of the William Parker Quartet. a 11 PM, Heaven Gallery, 1550 N. Milwaukee, second floor, 773-342-4597, $5 suggested donation. A --Bill Meyer

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