Daniele D'Agaro | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader
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Italian saxophonist and clarinetist Daniele D'Agaro is so well-rounded it's ridiculous. His working units in recent years have included the three-tenor Trio San Francisco with Tobias Delius and Sean Bergin, a quintet performing previously unheard Don Byas tunes (with Han Bennink on drums and Benny Bailey on trumpet), a duo with a church organist reviving 12th-century chants, a clarinet and strings chamber trio, a quintet with Richard Teitelbaum on computers and Senegalese singer Mola Sylla, and two hard-blowing jazz trios. D'Agaro's brawny, squarely in-tune tenor lets him elbow his way to the front of a noisy pack or swing out ahead of a bop rhythm section doing its best to nip at his heels. In any setting his poise, authority, and intelligence evoke tenor elders more than free-jazz jackrabbits. The same strengths inform his piping clarinet, which betrays his Italian folk roots, but as D'Agaro hails from the Alpine foothills north of Trieste and five miles from the Slovenian border, a bit of eastern European nasality sneaks in too. (He moved back home in '96, after 13 years in Amsterdam's improv scene.) On Thursday, opening night of the Empty Bottle's Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music, D'Agaro will perform in a quartet with sax-and-brass double threat Joe McPhee and rising stars Brian Dibblee on bass and Tim Daisy on drums. Saturday night at the Bottle he'll greet venerable Chicago drummer Robert Barry and reunite with two players he hooked up with here two years ago, trombonist Jeb Bishop and bassist Kent Kessler. Thursday and Saturday, April 24 and 26, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Jackson.

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