Red Rodney | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Red Rodney

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Bird--the film--is out, detailing the tragedy and triumph of Charlie Parker. And that means that "Chood"--the nickname of Robert Chudnick, aka Red Rodney, the young white trumpeter who came under Charlie Parker's spell in the late 1940s--is once again in. Rodney replaced Miles Davis in Parker's band and proved himself the most compatible of Parker's hired hands; since then, he's been in jail, rebuilt his embouchure, and escaped the Las Vegas stage-band scene with his soul intact (no easy feat). All this might suggest that Rodney represents a page of history at best and nostalgia at worst, but cancel on that. His music bursts with the joy of resurrection and survival. He doesn't restrict himself to bebop per se; he surrounds himself with younger musicians who challenge as well as support, and his ability to create intricate, brilliantly formed solos at high speed has only improved over the years. The fact is he sounds better than ever: the proof is the Bird sound track, where the tunes supposedly played by the 24-year-old Red Rodney were actually recorded by the 61-year-old genuine article. Tonight through Sunday, George's, 230 W. Kinzie; 644-2290.

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