Shot X Shot | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The self-titled debut by this young quartet from Philadelphia, released on High Two, is one of the year's most striking and satisfying jazz albums. Steering between the poles of pure schematic exercise and pedal-to-the-metal blowing, Shot x Shot arrive via intuition and empathy at a beguiling middle ground. The twin-saxophone improvisations of Lennie Tristano's groups are clearly an antecedent, but the explorations here feel more leisurely and harmonically ambiguous. While the elements of their approach--lovely, melancholy melodies, inventive permutations of written material, shifts between foreground and background--aren't new in themselves, they execute them with distinction; it's impressive simply that tenor saxophonist Bryan Rogers and alto saxophonist Dan Scofield both play nearly the whole time without ever getting in each other's way. It's not as easy to pick out exactly what drummer Dan Capecchi and bassist Matt Engle are doing--the album was recorded in an old church on the University of Pennsylvania campus that gives an appealingly murky reverb to the performances--but when you can, it's always perceptive, precise, and ensemble minded. Shot x Shot open for the Peter Brotzmann-Jeb Bishop Sextet--actually a double trio with bassists Kent Kessler and Ingebrigt Haaker Flaten and drummers Tim Daisy and Frank Rosaly. a 9 PM, Enemy, 1550 N. Milwaukee, third floor, 312-493-3657, $10 suggested donation. A

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