Gul 3 | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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GUL 3

The Swedish free-jazz scene, like its Chicago counterpart, is full of noisy young players with a ravenous appetite for discovery--and while their energy can often be invigorating, it's rarely eloquent. An extraordinary exception to the rule is Gul 3, a trio from Goteborg that makes its Chicago debut this week. All the members are in their early 20s, but on their drop-dead gorgeous debut album, Soul (Crazy Wisdom), they play with a thoughtfulness often lacking in musicians twice their age. Though they're clearly searching, they never hit a dead end: each piece, no matter how structurally free, finds its way home. Saxophonist Johan Arrias plays both alto and baritone, and like Julius Hemphill before him he can break your heart with either one. His quiet, breathy notes convey more emotion than any squawk or skronk I've heard in a couple years; every delicate line is a tear about to drop. Cellist Leo Svensson occasionally provides a bass line, but more often than not he's gently jostling Arrias. On the title track, his bowing has a melancholy gravity, but elsewhere he tends to mimic the range and texture of the alto--on "Opener" it's possible to confuse the two instruments. Percussionist Henrik Olsson makes his comments with the focus of someone who thinks he's only got a few strokes left in him, meticulously grazing the cymbals and tapping the snare; when he actually solos the effect is doubly powerful; less rarely sounds like this much more. Gul 3 plays a prompt, early set, which will be followed by several sets featuring various arrangements of players from the Pipeline 2000 project (see Post No Bills). Wednesday, 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. PETER MARGASAK

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