Tales Out of Time | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Tales Out of Time

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One of the Peter Brotzmann Chicago Tentet's greatest strengths is the intricate web of relationships, some decades long, that links its players. The 2002 session that yielded last year's marvelous Tales Out of Time (Hatology) was the first time reedist Brotzmann, trumpeter and saxist Joe McPhee, bassist Kent Kessler, and percussionist Michael Zerang had played as a quartet, but the connections that enrich Brotzmann's big band--where all four also serve--are if anything even more evident here. The two horn men, both in their 60s, never collaborated before the Tentet, but they've been sharing bills since 1977 and a common aesthetic for even longer--both were acquainted firsthand with the founders of free jazz, and each draws from a deep well of wounded lyricism and raw power. Kessler and Zerang, though only in their 40s, started playing together the same year and have worked side by side in countless bands and ad hoc ensembles; their rapport is so finely calibrated by now that they can support each other comfortably even when they're at their most abstract. On "Alto Lightning in a Violin Sky" (the title is taken from a poem by McPhee) Kessler's bowing flails across the music's surface while Zerang's cymbal barrage rains down from every direction at once, yet in combination their gestures give the music a remorseless momentum. Sometimes McPhee and Brotzmann trade long solos, but the most exhilarating moments come when they braid their lines into complex, tumbling figures. Since its inception the quartet has toured Europe and recorded in Germany and Slovenia (though those sessions are still unreleased), but this is its first concert in the States. Wed 8/3, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10.

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