Trio Braam de Joode Vatcher | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Trio Braam de Joode Vatcher

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Pianist Michiel Braam is one of the most exciting and prolific composers in jazz, but like most of his peers on the Dutch scene he doesn't hold his sheet music sacred. In fact, he seems to love running his songs through different permutations, both within a specific group and across formats, from solo to big band. He played here last year with his sextet, All Ears, and later this year his large group, Bik Bent Braam, will make its local debut at the Jazz Festival, but he may be best known in Chicago for his superb acoustic trio with bassist Wilbert de Joode and drummer Michael Vatcher. That group is featured on Change This Song (BBB), one of two new albums that draw from a suite of 18 Braam compositions. On the other, Hosting Changes (BBB), credited to the Wurli Trio, Braam plays many of the same songs on Wurlitzer electric keyboard, joined by a drummer and electric bassist. The electric group is sleeker and more fluid, but I think the acoustic trio is more rewarding. Braam has no problem reconciling historical impulses with more contemporary gestures, and like fellow Dutch pianist Misha Mengelberg he's fond of exploding a hard-swinging line with a burst of dissonant clusters and spiky runs; Vatcher and de Joode take similar delight in upending the flow of the tunes. Onstage, any of them might call out a new song in midstream, which gives their concerts thrilling tension--but even if someone manages to pull the rug out from under the others, they always regain their footing, deftly and elegantly. Wed 6/14, 8 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

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