Tin Hat Quartet | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Tin Hat Quartet


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Last year on Book of Silk (Ropeadope) the chamber ensemble Tin Hat Trio became a quintet, adding harpist Zeena Parkins and tubaist Bryan Smith. But as ever, their elegant mix of musical flavors--French cafe, classical, bossa nova, jazz, blues, and Gypsy among others--sounds like the most natural thing in the world. On the cheekily titled "Elliott Carter Family," Carla Kihlstedt and Rob Burger muck around with extended technique--she produces long tones on violin, he plays prepared piano--as guitarist Mark Orton slowly unveils Appalachian arpeggios, while on "Pablo Looks Back" they layer Morricone-esque whistling over brittle banjo playing and gently hammered piano strings. Orton injects a Mississippi blues feel into "Things That Might Have Been" with his twangy Dobro playing, while accordion and euphonium lines from Burger and Smith add a touch of old-world urbanity. Themes and solos arrive in richly varied combinations across the 15 songs on the album, and each contribution alters the tenor of the song. The band is billed as a quartet for this gig; Burger is sitting the tour out, but Parkins, who also plays keyboards, and superb Bay Area clarinetist Ben Goldberg (of the New Klezmer Trio) will join Kihlstedt and Orton. Can-Ky-Ree opens. Wed 1/26, 8:30 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $12.

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