Joel Futterman | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Is Joel Futterman the Sherlock Holmes of jazz piano? On the face of it, he's one of our most romantic players, devoted to free, fanciful melody. In his heart, though, he's a tenacious improviser, who's absorbed all of jazz's rhythmic-harmonic innovations of the last 30-odd years and who's determined to pursue his musical investigations to their conclusions no matter how difficult the trail. Despite Futterman's melodic directness, he's a player whose strong, linear movement passes through subtle shadings of emotion, and he's unafraid of dissonance or harshness. He's still little-known, perhaps precisely because of his subtlety--and perhaps because he's lived in the obscurity of Virginia, far from the jazz wars, since 1974. This weekend's concerts are a return home after a long absence; he began his career by playing bebop and free jazz here, first with lyrical trumpeter Gene Shaw and multisaxist Rahsaan Roland Kirk. This time he'll be joined by multi-instrumentalist Hal Russell, a similarly tough-minded, purely musical improviser, on saxophones, trumpet, vibes, and drums; this pairing looks promising indeed, for Futterman likes to develop contrasting lines out of his partners' ideas, and Russell is certainly prolific with ideas. Tonight and Saturday, 8 PM, Southend Musicworks, 1313 S. Wabash; 939-2848.

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  →