Sticks and Stones With Fred Anderson | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Sticks and Stones With Fred Anderson

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The chickens have come home to roost. The members of Sticks and Stones--alto saxophonist Matana Roberts, bassist Josh Abrams, and drummer Chad Taylor--became acclimated to one another at the Sunday evening jam sessions Fred Anderson hosts at his jazz club the Velvet Lounge. Roberts and Taylor now nest in New York, but Sticks and Stones' current tour includes two Chicago gigs, and for the first Anderson will join them as guest tenor saxophonist. It'll be a most promising setting for him: it's an Anderson quirk that his rhythm sections often mix excellent and indifferent players, but this group is top of the line. The Chicago Underground's Taylor reconciles jazz's round-the-kit accents with dub's mesmerism; he gets a particularly effective dark but not heavy sound from the traps. Abrams, with his fat thumpy tone and sturdy timing, has played pivotal roles in various groups--he's become Chicago's answer to New York's dependable William Parker. Like Anderson, Roberts can play turbulent solos--witness "Lose My Number" on the trio's 2002 debut Sticks and Stones (482 Music)--but she gravitates toward a sweeter, narrower tone, playing more stripped-down lines with a more pronounced vibrato. She'll likely make an ideal foil for Anderson, whose beefier free playing is in the Chicago blues-and-brawn tenor tradition. He should fit in whether charging up the middle, making quiet asides, or going head-to-head with his old protege. And the trio's lightly structured tunes may pry him away from his usual pentatonic patterns. This combination could prove worth repeating. Monday, February 3, 7 PM, Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington; 312-744-6630. Sticks and Stones, minus Anderson, also play Wednesday, February 5, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

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