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

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Trio Braam/De Joode/Vatcher

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I'm still not sure why Dutch jazz musicians can so easily and gracefully reconcile reverence and iconoclasm, but in the case of a record like Colors (Bik Bent Braam, 2002), the latest from the trio led by pianist Michiel Braam, I'm less interested in cause than effect. Colors was inspired by the 1967 album of the same name, on which Chicago "word jazz" legend Ken Nordine performed 34 impressionistic poems corresponding to the mood or feeling of 34 colors. Braam composed new material for all 34 of Nordine's titles--which range from the obvious to the likes of "Flesh," "Nutria," and "Rosey"--but only 23 of the pieces fit on this CD. In his liner notes Braam writes, "In some pieces I have tried to characterize the actual color, in others to comment or to reflect upon personal associations with the color or its name." In the process he's packed a veritable history of jazz piano into a dynamic, thoroughly contemporary suite, making forays into angular, Monk-like melody ("Mauve"), rigorous free jazz ("Chartreuse"), pin-drop introspection ("Ecru"), hyperkinetic drum 'n' bass ("Orange"), and ominous soundscape ("Mud"). With excellent, flexible support from his longtime rhythm section of bassist Wilbert de Joode (Ab Baars Trio) and drummer Michael Vatcher (Available Jelly), who keep him on his toes with unexpected rhythmic and harmonic interruptions, Braam rarely navigates one of these elegant tunes without some kind of suspenseful side trip. The dazzling variety and constant surprises evoke the wonderment of opening a brand-new box of crayons. Wednesday, December 17, 8 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo; 312-362-9707.

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