PETER BROTZMANN | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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PETER BROTZMANN

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Because Peter Brotzmann has a (well-deserved) reputation as one of the most ferocious free-jazz saxophonists ever to blow a note, when I write about him I tend to emphasize his overlooked skill and sensitivity on more restrained material. The fact is, he's constantly running the gamut, from guttural and hair-raising to pensive and pointillist and back again. A record like last year's Full Blast (Jazzwerkstatt), where he's as relentless as a wrecking ball, is quite unusual for him. Electric bassist Marino Pliakas (of Steamboat Switzerland) and drummer Michael Wertmuller (founder of Alboth!) keep up a fearsome all-out attack that recalls the Japanese bass-drums duo Ruins--there are an overwhelming number of notes, all coming at you very hard--but instead of that outfit's proggy precision they opt for an instinctual improvised approach where the principal modes seem to be "surge" and "surge harder." Even so--and this says all you need to know about the power of Brotzmann's playing--they have to struggle to keep from getting drowned out. Notwithstanding the absence of an electric guitar, they make me think of Brotzmann's old band Last Exit--or rather what Last Exit should've sounded like. Cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm opens the show with his Valentine Trio, which now includes bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Frank Rosaly. a 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $12, $10 in advance.

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