Ted Sirota's Rebel Souls | Green Mill | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Ted Sirota's Rebel Souls Recommended Member Picks Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Sat., March 7, 8 p.m. 2009

It’s been five years since drummer Ted Sirota released a record with the Rebel Souls. The quintet’s personnel have changed—only tenor saxophonist Geof Bradfield remains from the previous lineup—but on the superb new Seize the Time (Naim Jazz) Sirota retains his broad vision for the group’s music as well as the political drive behind it. In his liner notes he quotes Charles Mingus, whose “Free Cell Block F, ’Tis Nazi U.S.A.” the Rebel Souls cover: “Titles should speak from time to time to issues that ought to be of concern.” In the past he’s named songs after Fred Hampton and executed Nigerian environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, and here the band covers politically charged tunes by the Clash, Caetano Veloso, and Miriam Makeba. Protest music falls flat if there’s no fire in it, but Sirota’s killer band—which now includes guitarist Dave Miller, alto saxophonist Greg Ward, and bassist Jake Vinsel—has plenty of that. The group’s elegant, bracing postbop, sometimes shot through with reggae or funk, crackles with energy and passion. The Rebel Souls are one of Chicago’s longest-running and most underrated jazz combos, but judging by this record, Sirota hasn’t let it discourage him that he isn’t getting his due. Tonight Kevin Kizer fills in for Bradfield, who’s out of the country; trombonist Jeb Bishop, a former member, sits in. —Peter Margasak

Price: $12

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