Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Ed Thigpen's Midwest Serengeti Quintet

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The understandable hoopla surrounding the 80th birthday of drummer Roy Haynes has obscured another milestone: this December Chicago-born drummer Ed Thigpen turns 75. Thigpen's likely the better known of the two--at least if you consider sales of albums by the Oscar Peterson Trio, which Thigpen anchored from 1959 to 1965. He's a strong composer and a surgeon of a percussionist, driving the music with perfectly placed strokes, an incisive touch, and a pulse-quickening range of dynamics; he's one of the most tasteful drummer-leaders we have, and a truly exciting artist to watch as well as hear. Thigpen moved to Europe in 1972, and since the 80s he's regularly crossed paths with vocalist Deborah Brown, a Kansas City expatriate who's virtually unknown here. In the two decades since she began making records, she's grown from a tentative newbie with dangerously inexact intonation into an assured musician who hits her marks--both timbral and rhythmic--with a bravura learned from the example of Sarah Vaughan. On her latest disc, I Found My Thrill (Jazz Voix), Brown steps into territory pioneered by Ella Fitzgerald, accompanied only by guitarist Joe Beck. As far as I can ascertain, this show marks her first Chicago appearance in at least two decades, and possibly her first ever. The instrumentalists include Chicago trumpet sage Orbert Davis. See also Wednesday and Thursday; the group's run lasts through Sunday, October 2. Tue 9/27, 8 and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand, 312-670-2473, $20.

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

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