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Grawe-Reijseger-Hemingway Trio

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GRAWE-REIJSEGER-HEMINGWAY TRIO

By the time German pianist Georg Grawe made himself an honorary member of the Chicago scene with a six-month residency in 1997, his remarkable trio with Dutch cellist Ernst Reijseger and New York drummer Gerry Hemingway had already gone dormant. And lately he's been concentrating on solo work and larger groups, like his quintet on the recent Concert in Berlin 1996 (Wobbly Rail), featuring saxist Mats Gustafsson and trombonist Sebi Tramontana. But this Monday the trio--Grawe's most consistent and artistically successful group in the early 90s--makes its long-awaited Chicago debut as part of its tenth-anniversary tour. Though this decidedly experimental ensemble often functions as a standard piano trio, with Reijseger playing bass lines, the musicians rarely rely on familiar, swinging structures; instead they seamlessly fuse the European classical tradition, free improvisation, and the early trio work of Bill Evans. At its best the group makes daring, spontaneous leaps from elegiac tiptoeing to cubist seesawing to cacophonous rumbling, animated by a dazzling collective intuition. And all three members are gifted with incalculable range: Grawe switches easily from fragile romanticism to galvanic post-Cecil Taylor bass clusters; Reijseger moves from tactile arco screeches to finger-snapping walking lines as casually as he might shift his weight from foot to foot; and Hemingway is just as comfortable dropping percussive bombs as he is bowing a delicate, infinitely variable tone from one of his cymbals. I haven't heard their latest release, La Bonne Vitesse (Random Acoustics), recorded at a concert in 1994, but Saturn Cycle (Music & Arts), recorded the same year, displays the arresting give-and-take they'd achieved at the time. There is no single leader; instead every musician regularly takes the fore, influencing what comes next by isolating and accenting an element from the current episode. Chasing epiphanies is standard procedure in free improv, but it's a rare group that can combine such a spontaneous approach with a gorgeous, dramatic compositional flow. Monday, 7 PM, Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington; 312-744-6630. Peter Margasak

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