Todd Herbert Quartet | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Todd Herbert Quartet

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TODD HERBERT QUARTET

Young tenor man Todd Herbert left the Chicago area for New York in 1997, but in a city that draws so many talented aspirants it can take a while to make a splash. Despite his speed and confidence, Herbert has barely made a ripple so far in New York--to the best of my knowledge, he hasn't recorded since he arrived--and he's paid only a few return visits. When he lived here, Herbert and his no-holds-barred solos were a mainstay of the Chicago Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra, and like his successor in that group, Frank Catalano, he can part the waters of an arrangement with energetic technique and tireless drive. But Herbert also has a reserved tone that honors the cool school of the 50s as much as the mainstream of the 80s, and in combination with his flying fingers it produces a gentle creative tension in his playing--a quality that made him a valued member of Chicago pianist Willie Pickens's combos in the mid-90s. Pickens leads the rhythm section here, and his own recent performances around town--in the last year he's established a new high-water mark for his fathomless chords and spiky, swift-running right-hand work--suggest that Herbert will have to be at the top of his game to avoid getting blown off the stage. This quartet appears as part of First Night Evanston, a New Year's Eve festival featuring close to 50 different acts--music, dance, theater, comedy--at nearly two dozen venues. For details see the Fairs & Festivals listings in this section. Sunday, December 31, 10 PM, First Congregational Church, 1417 Hinman, Evanston; 847-289-4248.

NEIL TESSER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jennifer Keats.

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