Jump Rhythm Jazz Project | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Jump Rhythm Jazz Project


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A determined buoyancy informs the choreography of Jump Rhythm Jazz Project artistic director Billy Siegenfeld. One of the four new pieces on these programs, I Hear Music, is a tap and scat-singing musical tour de force--there's no recorded or live accompaniment--that's lighthearted overall but also has some emotional texture. Intoning snatches of songs by Frank Loesser, the Isley Brothers, Leonard Bernstein, and the Rolling Stones, the dancers confront one another, wearily acquiesce to one dancer's wishes, then come to some abrupt realization that makes them all stop and go "oh" in unison. Another new dance is Elling, Sweet: The Healing, a piece in three sections set to two Kurt Elling songs plus Siegenfeld's arrangement of Dave Frishberg and Alan Broadbent's "Heart's Desire." In the opening solo, Siegenfeld isn't just mopey--he's downright tragic. It seems his heart's been broken, but in the second section a band of angels confer their wisdom upon him, delivering a mad, joyous nightmare message: he must chase his heart's desire--and his heart may break. The final section is the giddy epitome of goofy happiness. Also new are Night and Day, a song-and-dance number by Siegenfeld and associate artistic director Jeannie Hill, and an amusing tap duet, Two Gents, Perhaps (performed opening night only). Rounding out the program are Siegenfeld's Getting There, the "Early Autumn" section from If Winter, No Way Out, and You Make Me Feel So Young and Hill's Play Dirty and Bye Bye Blackbird. Vittum Theater, 1012 N. Noble, 773-278-7471. Opens Thursday, June 6, 7:30 PM. Through June 8: Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 2 and 8 PM. $20. Note: The Thursday show is a benefit and includes a live performance by Kurt Elling and his trio, a preperformance dinner, and a postperformance champagne reception. Tickets are $75-$250.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/William Frederking.

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