Dylan Van Der Schyff | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Dylan Van Der Schyff

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When he first appeared on the radar screen, in Vancouver about a decade ago, there was no telling which direction Dylan van der Schyff would go. An immensely gifted young drummer born in South Africa, he could swing hard and apply a light touch with equal dexterity, and if he'd chosen to he could have followed a promising career trajectory into straight jazz, perhaps to follow in the footsteps of other great but largely neglected Canadian jazz drummers like Claude Ranger or Larry Dubin. But like Dubin, van der Schyff wasn't satisfied with the mainstream ting-ting-a-ling, and he quickly fell in with some of Vancouver's creative-music mainstays, joining the large ensemble New Orchestra Workshop, Talking Pictures, and bands led by clarinetist Francois Houle and guitarist Tony Wilson. On Lowest Note (Spool), the latest offering from Wilson's sextet, van der Schyff's earliest strengths are still evident, and when he breaks up time, his touch is reminiscent of Chicago drummer Steve McCall's, open but still deeply rooted in jazz. He adds electronics to his regular kit on the eponymously titled 1999 album by the Peggy Lee Band, led by his wife, a cellist. But the best opportunities to hear him stretch are on various duet CDs, including two 1998 Spool releases--These Are Our Shoes, with Lee, and Sponge, with Chris Tarry on electric bass--and especially this year's Points, Snags and Windings (Meniscus), with British saxophonist John Butcher. Here he brings considerable free improvising skills to the table, throwing in effects like chattering sticks, muted skins, and scraped and ringing cymbals without losing track of the fundamentals of kit-based drumming. In his first Chicago appearance, van der Schyff will be joined by cornetist Rob Mazurek, a onetime hard bopper whose journey into creative music closely resembles his own, and resourceful bassist Jason Roebke, who has worked closely with van der Schyff's compadre Houle. Friday, October 5, 9:30 PM, Velvet Lounge, 21281/2 S. Indiana; 312-791-9050.

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