DEE ALEXANDER | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Blessed with pitch-perfect control, a resonant timbre, and a four-octave range, Dee Alexander strikes a sometimes precarious balance between virtuosity and restraint, whether she's rendering the Ella Fitzgerald/George Gershwin songbook (as she did at the 2004 Chicago Jazz Festival) or creating kaleidoscopic landscapes with her peers in the AACM (as she's been doing lately at the Velvet Lounge). Tonight she's paying tribute to a mentor, reedman "Light" Henry Huff, whom she credits with helping her find her "natural" voice when she was a singer and interpretive dancer in his ensemble Breath in the late 70s and early 80s. (Huff died in 1993.) Considering the variegated textures and tonalities her voice is capable of assuming, that couldn't have been easy. Alexander says this concert is the realization of a long-standing dream, so expect an even more spiritual, intense, and risk-taking performance than usual. Afterward she'll join Douglas R. Ewart & Inventions for the first of two nights at the Velvet Lounge, and on Sunday she performs on Navy Pier. See also Saturday and Sunday. a 7:30 PM, Columbus Park Refectory, 5701 W. Jackson, 773-287-0856, FA; 9 PM, Velvet Lounge 67 E. Cermak, 312-791-9050, $15, $10 for students, 21+.

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