Daniele D'Agaro | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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DANIELE D'AGARO

Saxophonist Daniele D'Agaro sounds like a natural match for great expat bebop trumpeter Benny Bailey on their 1999 album, Hidden Treasures (Nota). The two recorded nine rare compositions by saxophonist Don Byas; D'Agaro does an excellent job evoking the full-bodied tenor sound of the 40s and 50s, even as the swift rhythm section--including drummer Han Bennink--helps ground the music in the here and now. But that's just one trick in D'Agaro's bottomless bag. Gentle Ben, recorded with American bassist Mark Helias and Italian drummer Umberto Trombetta "Gandhi" and released the same year on the same label, includes a traditional Portuguese tune, a version of Monk's "Four in One," and a slew of catchy originals, all of which demonstrate D'Agaro's equal ease with playing straight and playing out there. Born in 1958 in Udine, Italy, near the Slovenian border, D'Agaro discovered jazz and improvised music in his teens, and before long he was working with Italian avant-gardist Andrea Centazzo. In addition to the tenor, he plays the clarinet, an instrument that lets him reveal his heritage in a folksy, melodic style. In 1983 he moved to Amsterdam, where he formed the trio Lingua Franca with cellist Tristan Honsinger and bassist Ernst Glerum; the group has done everything from interpreting Italian folk tunes to collaborating with a Senegalese singer. He returned to Udine in 1996, where he now leads, among other projects, the trio with Helias and Trombetta. For his Chicago debut D'Agaro will be joined by trombonist Jeb Bishop, bassist Kent Kessler, and drummer Tim Daisy; they'll improvise for most of the show, but reportedly they might throw in a Byas tune or two. Wednesday, July 18, 7 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

PETER MARGASAK

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