Steve Lantner | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Steve Lantner

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Boston-based keyboardist Steve Lantner isn't averse to the dense language that's favored by so many contemporary jazz pianists, and his music has its share of dissonant harmonies and emphatic percussive accents. But he only uses those devices to emphasize the fundamentally melodic nature of his improvisations, and his clean, darting lines tend to incorporate plenty of space. That gives his fellow musicians ample opportunity to increase the tension of a piece by making contrasting statements, but they never get in the way of the ceaseless forward momentum. For example, on "Once Through," a track from Lantner's third CD, Saying So (2002), bassist Joe Morris sprints ahead of the beat, drummer Laurence Cook lags slightly behind it, and Lantner plays elaborate figures in yet another tempo; it should have been a musical pileup, but instead it's an elegant and coherent performance. All of Lantner's recordings feature fellow Bostonians, but he'll be performing with locals for his Chicago debut, playing digital piano in a quartet with saxophonist Dave Rempis, bassist Kent Kessler, and percussionist Michael Zerang. Lantner also plays on Sunday, March 13, with reedist Aram Shelton and cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm at Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont; call 773-935-2118. Wed 3/9, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $6. See also Thursday.

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