Sean Bergin | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Amsterdam-based saxophonist Sean Bergin has led his 11-piece MOB (that stands for "My Own Band") on and off for nearly 15 years, and its music has a delightful, ragged ebullience that makes it sound like a group of old friends getting together and taking apart some favorite tunes. Many of the MOB's members actually are longtime colleagues--drummer Han Bennink, saxophonist Tobias Delius, trombonist Wolter Wierbos, bassist Ernst Glerum, trumpeter Eric Boeren, and cellist Tristan Honsinger, among others--but on the band's third and most recent album, 1999's Copy Cat (Bvhaast), the tunes are all Bergin originals, chockablock with multilinear activity but still loose and relaxed. Propulsive rhythms butt heads and hug, and sophisticated, joyful melodies tangle and caress. In addition to relatively conventional blowing over groovy vamps, there are loads of simultaneous solos--the 18-minute "Three Wise Men," for example, opens with a stretch of charged chamberlike interaction, with horns and strings following a loose script that allows them to zigzag all over the place without creating a directionless mess. And Bergin himself is a high-flying soloist, injecting his playing with an unflagging optimism. He was born and raised in Durban, South Africa, and the jaunty, soul-stoked sounds of kwela music jostle with Mingus-like brass in his boisterous, gear-shifting arrangements. Unfortunately he isn't bringing the MOB to his Chicago debut, but he will be joined by a superb trio of Chicagoans--trombonist Jeb Bishop, drummer Chad Taylor, and bassist Josh Abrams--who'll have a chance to rehearse some of his tunes with him. Friday and Saturday, March 23 and 24, 9:30 PM, Velvet Lounge, 21281/2 S. Indiana; 312-791-9050.


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

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