Sonny Sharrock | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Sonny Sharrock


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The rawboned joy of Sonny Sharrock's guitar stands almost alone in modern music: most jazz players don't find room for Sharrock's galvanic, reverberated tonal energy, while most rockers can't approach either the creativity or the complexity of his melodic sense. By the early 70s, Sharrock's slashing, sometimes anarchic forays had made him a sort of demigod among guitar fanatics, who heard him with Pharoah Sanders and Don Cherry and thought that perhaps Hendrix was playing jazz gigs under an assumed name. Since he resumed recording in the mid-80s, Sharrock has produced some of the blackest and most electrifying music to ever escape the no-man's land between rock and jazz; he can also kick back and temper his intensity to come up with an album like 1990's High Life (Enemy), which features the band he'll bring to Chicago. On that album Sharrock tended to shelve the jazz and allow himself to revert into one of the great rock improvisers, a searing guitarist of unparalleled lyrical force--which ain't such a bad thing, either. Opening the show will be Ken Vandermark's quartet, who should provide a perfect foil with their instant flights into the free-jazz stratosphere--as opposed to Sharrock's smooth descents from similar altitudes. Sunday, 9 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620.

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