Don Bennett | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Big and burly, Don Bennett plays a style of jazz piano to match his physical stature; it boasts an imposing rhythmic drive, fleshy textures, and no small amount of flamboyance in his right-hand melody work. No surprise, then, that Bennett works mainly in a milieu that respects and enhances these characteristics--namely, hard bop, the soulful/brainy idiom that extended the range and success of bebop into the mid-50s. Helming a trio, Bennett spins riffy solos that belie the intimacy that format came to symbolize after Bill Evans; and when he adds horns, you get the sense that Bennett has really arrived home, heading a unit with the textural surge to match his own keyboard concept. Bennett may not supplant any of the contemporary keyboard giants, but his straight-ahead swing and infectious energy guarantee a generous and inviting program every time he performs. Having recently returned to Chicago after a New York sojourn, Bennett will trot out the trio next week, and later in the month expand to a quintet (starring saxist Brian Gephart and the marvelous trumpeter Art Hoyle, who remains up-front in the city's horn contingent). Tuesday, 8 PM, and next Friday and Saturday, August 13 and 14, 9 PM, Pops for Champagne, 2934 N. Sheffield; 472-1000.

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

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