Jeff Newell Quartet | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Jeff Newell Quartet



Long admired for its boss tenors, Chicago has rarely boasted a bumper crop of alto saxophonists--which makes the recent emergence of Jeff Newell all the more satisfying. It's not that Newell just showed up; in fact, he's been a regular presence on the local scene throughout most of the 80s, starring in groups led by Marshall Vente and Charles Earland, just to name two. But in the last year Newell's playing has achieved a new focus, and simultaneously acquired a strength that was only hinted at before. He now brings an authority to improvisations that, while engaging, often lacked punch; as a result, his more cerebral musical conceits have an emotional immediacy that makes his explorations genuinely exciting as well as intellectually intriguing. Newell's alto and soprano work supply several highlights on Earland's upcoming album on Muse, but his music--particularly his own compositions--is best served in the more expansive context of Newell's own quartet. The sturdy and responsive rhythm section features finger-busting forays by pianist Steve Million and is anchored by bassist Cal Drake and the versatile Charlie Braugham on drums. Saturday, Bop Shop, 1807 W. Division; 235-3232.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →