Misha Mengelberg & Han Bennink with Von Freeman | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Misha Mengelberg & Han Bennink with Von Freeman




Pianist Misha Mengelberg and drummer Han Bennink, two of the most important players on the Dutch contemporary jazz scene, go together like oil and water, both physically (Mengelberg is short and dumpy, Bennink tall and dapper) and musically (the pianist is a remarkable composer, the drummer a dedicated improviser, though both can swing like mofos). Yet they've remained a duo for four decades--it's as though they delight in aggravating each other. Both musicians made rare Chicago appearances last year, Mengelberg in a solo performance at the Velvet Lounge that emphasized his deep understanding of the harmonic complexity of Thelonious Monk's music and Bennink in a typically raucous gig by the Clusone Trio, with cellist Ernst Reijseger and reedist Michael Moore, at the Empty Bottle, but this is the first time they've appeared here together since they participated in a Monk tribute at the Jazz Festival in the 80s. They'll be joined by local tenor legend Von Freeman, one of the most formidable hard-bop saxophonists alive. Freeman also happens to be brilliant in less structured settings: a few years ago he tore the Empty Bottle up in a gig with bassist Harrison Bankhead and drummer Hamid Drake, unleashing countless rhythmic and melodic ideas while smashing traditional harmonic concepts. Although this trio will probably stick to standards, including some by Monk, you can bet you'll hear things you've never heard before. Wednesday, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. On Tuesday night at the Bottle, after the Vandermark 5's usual 9 PM set, Mengelberg will improvise with members of that group. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos by Francesco Patella/ Marc PoKempner.

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