Joanne Brackeen Quartet | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Joanne Brackeen Quartet


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What I like about Joanne Brackeen's piano music is its fierce inner drive. Her sound is hard, clear, percussive, her technique is brilliant, and she's inclined to aggressive, often exotic rhythms. She's bursting with angular, often complex ideas, as though she had absorbed the concepts of virtually every pianist--from Bud Powell to Cecil Taylor--who's had anything to say over the last three or four decades. And she's equipped with a kind of bullshit detector that prevents her from sentimental developments or cheap, easy resolutions. For all these merits, she's a troubling artist, eclectic in the extreme, moving from idea to idea with a restlessness that is almost scary. Maybe the word for this is postmodernism, though Brackeen's stone seriousness, her apparent need for shifting rhythms and modes is more than merely fashionable. I sometimes suspect that if she developed some of her specific ideas further, exploring them to their conclusions--in other words, if she allowed herself to become obsessed--she might create some truly major works of jazz. She likes to surround herself with other fine, aggressive players; this time her partners will be Greg Osby, saxes; Cecil McBee, bass; Tony Reedus, drums. Monday, 8 and 10 PM, Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison; 327-1662 or 477-7469.

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