Electric Kulintang | Chicago Cultural Center, Claudia Cassidy Theater | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Electric Kulintang All Ages Critic's Choice Free Recommended Soundboard

When: Thu., Oct. 9, 7 p.m. 2008

The kulintang is a traditional percussion instrument from southeast Asia, popular in the southern Philippines, that consists of a tuned row of eight knobbed, kettle-shaped gongs, similar to those used in gamelan music. Filipino-American drummer Susie Ibarra, best known for her work with free-jazz icons like David S. Ware and William Parker, first played it decades ago as a teenager in a folk ensemble (it was once thought of as a woman’s instrument), but in Electric Kulintang—a duo with her husband, Cuban-born percussionist Roberto Rodriguez—she places it in thoroughly modern contexts. On last year’s Dialects (Plastic) her coolly hypnotic kulintang melodies accompany everything from the dense, relentlessly cycling post-Reich minimalism of “Anitos (Spirits)” to the breezy pop of “Shade” (where Ibarra reveals herself to be a convincing singer), and she always integrates the instrument in a different way—it’s never treated as a mere accessory or simple signifier of exoticism. Rodriguez controls looped beats, field recordings, and various samples in addition to playing a trap kit, cajon, and clay-pot drums; Ibarra supplements the kulintang with kit drums and keyboards. This concert is the first in this year’s Chicago Asian-American Jazz Festival—the others are two weekends away—as well as Electric Kulintang’s local debut. —Peter Margasak

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