Fred Simon Quartet | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Fred Simon Quartet


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The Chicago pianist and composer has dubbed this gig "unplugged," which signals the absence not only of electric guitar, which Simon usually employs in his bands, but also of his own electric keyboards. Simon has been reinvestigating the piano--unamplified, unreconstructed, and unforgiving. Over the years, in even his own estimation, Simon's piano playing has taken a backseat to his compositional concerns; those, in turn, have led him to blend a fair amount of synthesized textures into his music. But the absence of synthesizers and other electronic enhancements at this engagement forces Simon into a different arena--one in which he plans to focus more on standards and classic jazz tunes in addition to translating some of his own compositions to the "acoustic" medium. The plans also call for increased (and unshackled) soloing from Simon and saxophonist Jim Gailloreto; bassist Rob Amster and drummer Mark Walker ensure the beat from the get-go. Simon's decision to go unplugged may illustrate the cliche that necessity mothers invention in that it reflects the relative scarcity of venues for his electric band: since the Tribune prematurely trumpeted a "golden age" of jazz in Chicago six months ago, one club has closed, at least two others have come perilously close, and the city has continued to experience a general decline in showcases for progressive music--both acoustic and electric. Saturday, 8 PM, 10 PM, and midnight, Jazz Buffet, 2556 W. Diversey; 862-0055.

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

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