Les McCann & Eddie Harris | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Les McCann & Eddie Harris

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It's been 19 years since keyboardist Les McCann and saxman Eddie Harris first joined forces at the Montreux Jazz Festival--an occasion preserved on the wildly popular LP Swiss Movement--so it's about time to try it again, don't you think? The success of that first pairing was dependent on individual strengths: each is a showman, and Harris's technical wizardry, which inspires gasps from fellow saxophonists, was clearly matched by McCann's gritty vocals. But more telling was the chemical combustion between McCann's soulful, feelgood keyboard work and Harris's wry funkification. (When Eddie Harris plays a butt-bashing funk line, he seems to be winking at you in the process.) I could spend a long time extolling the underpraised Harris--no modern tenor player has greater control of the instrument; his solos, complex but clear, resemble the brilliantly playful games of teenage math prodigies; his scat singing offers a startling re-creation of his idiosyncratic sax style--but you get the picture. McCann's own career has been less focused in the last 15 years, but count on this reunion to catapult the music into higher realms of soul, wit, and emotional immediacy. Wednesday through next Sunday, May 29, Georges, 230 W. Kinzie; 644-2290.

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