Representatives from two sides of jazz pull it together at the Whistler | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Representatives from two sides of jazz pull it together at the Whistler


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One of the jazz world’s less fortunate elements is the antipathy that often arises between its mainstream and progressive wings. The straight-ahead crowd decries radicals for going too far and losing the essentials of the music; avant-gardists disparage the stodginess of orthodox practitioners—and neither acknowledges the commonalities between the camps. This residency is an antidote. Alto, tenor, and baritone saxophonist Dave Rempis has been at the cutting edge of Chicago jazz since the mid-90s, when he sought out Ken Vandermark for lessons and ended up joining his band. He possesses iron chops, responsive instincts, and an endless stream of harmonic and rhythmic ideas. Since drummer Jeremy Cunningham moved to Chicago in 2009, his ability to combine unflagging propulsion with a light touch has made him a valued accompanist for Marquis Hill and Caroline Davis. Rempis and Cunningham connected first on a social level and eventually discovered they got along onstage as well. The plan for this monthlong residency (every Tuesday in February) is to play two sets each night, one as a duo, the other with three invited guests who’ll help them map out the space between the stylistic poles. This week the guests are saxophonist Mars Williams, bassist Joshua Abrams, and drummer Avreeayl Ra.   v

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