Marlene Rosenberg | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Marlene Rosenberg

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MARLENE ROSENBERG

Chicago has borne or nurtured an astonishing number of superb jazz bassists over the years, and many of them--Malachi Favors in the 60s, Rufus Reid in the 70s, Kelly Sill from the 80s to the present--have exemplified a distinct regional style. It's characterized by balance between tone and syntax--a full, dark timbre, dry and earthy, that never buckles under the speedy technique that has increasingly characterized jazz bass over the past 40 years. Milt Hinton founded this Chicago school as a young man in the 30s, and in the 50s its star pupil, Wilbur Ware, headed to New York for postgraduate work with Art Blakey, Thelonious Monk, and Sonny Rollins. And Marlene Rosenberg, over the last 15 years or so, has grown into a bassist capable of carrying this tradition into the next decade, in the process consistently delighting knowledgeable listeners. She's backed a steady stream of top-tier visiting soloists and traveled as part of saxophonist Joe Henderson's band; her sonorous low notes, resonant top register, and especially her irresistible rhythmic drive have earned her a spot among the four or five top players in the city. That doesn't mean you often find her at the helm of her own group, though: for whatever reason, among jazz instrumentalists, bassists least frequently serve as bandleaders. So Monday's engagement by Rosenberg's quartet would qualify as a special occasion even if her lineup didn't include New York saxophonist Javon Jackson--who occasionally flirts with brilliance on his several Blue Note recordings--and Chicago keyboardist Robert Irving III, Miles Davis's musical director during the mid-80s and his coproducer on such albums as Decoy and You're Under Arrest. Ernie Adams, a strong-armed Chicago drummer with a light touch, rounds out the band. Monday, June 18, 8 and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 312-670-2473.

NEIL TESSER

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

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