Loren Mazzacane Connors | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Loren Mazzacane Connors

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LOREN MAZZACANE CONNORS

Loren MazzaCane Connors cuts an extraordinarily mysterious figure, from his name on down to his wholly unique music. At various times he's gone by these monikers: Loren Mazzacane, Guitar Roberts, Loren Mattei, and Bluesmaster. Regardless of what he's calling himself, there's no mistaking his beautifully austere, gorgeously sad playing. His early, rare self-released records were recorded with Kath Bloom--a left-field chanteuse in a league with Patty Waters--who complemented MazzaCane Connors's gentle playing with a fragile grace. His remarkable achievement of adopting various Delta blues elements--especially its achingly bent notes--results in a vaguely folky fingerpicking approach. MazzaCane Connors doesn't use stock blues forms, just the music's baroque flourishes. Over the years his music has become increasingly oblique: the emotional content remains but the structures are more challenging. For a number of years Suzanne Langille sang with him, lending a more brooding presence, but his most recent work has been louder and more aggressive. A live 1992 recording with the astonishing Japanese guitarist Keiji Haino witnessed a surge of electricity in his playing, and the encounter only enriched his music's potency. His newest recording, 9th Avenue (Black Label), shows that the intensity of the meeting with Haino has been retained in a dense collage of sensually smeared sounds. But in a duet with guitarist Alan Licht that I caught last fall in his native New York, MazzaCane Connors opted for the pin-drop quietude of his earlier work. In either situation, mavens of high-grade guitar expressionism can't afford to miss this performance, his Chicago debut. Saturday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 276-3600. PETER MARGASAK

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