Digital Primitives | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Digital Primitives Recommended Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Thu., Oct. 1, 8:30 p.m. 2009

Scrappy New York improvising trio the Digital Primitives bring a rigorous and thoroughly modern approach to primeval blues-based grooves, and on their second album, Hum Crackle & Pop (Hopscotch), their focus is sharper than ever. Israeli-born reedist Assif Tsahar, the only member playing a traditional front-line instrument, looks and sometimes sounds like the band’s leader, whether embroidering the written-out tunes or uncorking probing solos in his grainy, arid tone—his upper-register tenor cries on the lyrical “Love Truth” remind me of early-80s David Murray—but the center of attention is usually veteran free-jazz pianist Cooper-Moore. Here he plays no keyboard at all, instead crafting earthy, funky patterns on “primitive” homemade instruments like diddley bow and mouth bow—a device of his own design that’s kind of a cross between a jaw harp and a fiddle. Tsahar and Cooper-Moore routinely use simple effects like flange and distortion, but the band’s rigorous, nuanced workouts don’t need any bells and whistles to get over. In combination with the lean, danceable rhythms of drummer (and former Chicagoan) Chad Taylor, Cooper-Moore’s simple but eloquent contributions—the roiling diddley-bow twang on “Crackle & Pop,” the slide-guitar raunch he wrings from a fretless three-string banjo on “Hum”—posit a link between modern-day club tracks and the most ancient forms of dance music. —Peter Margasak

Price: $20

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