Whammies | Green Mill | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Whammies Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Fri., Jan. 30, 9 p.m. and Sat., Jan. 31, 9 p.m. 2015

The Whammies began in early 2012 as a low-key one-off project meant to dip into the vast repertoire of the deeply original soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy. However, over the last couple of years the trans-Atlantic sextet has transformed itself into a seriously intuitive working band—even if it only convenes a couple of times a year. The ensemble’s recent album, The Whammies Play the Music of Steve Lacy Vol. 3, Live (Driff), follows the template of its two studio-recorded predecessors both by bringing a deft level of interplay and adaptability to Lacy’s jagged themes and by featuring the brilliance of Dutch drummer Han Bennink who characteristically toggles between infectious swing, careening chaos, and almost martial rhythms. The nimble group—which also includes reedist Jorrit Dijkstra, pianist Pandelis Karayorgis, trombonist Jeb Bishop, bassist Jason Roebke, and violinist/violist Mary Oliver—recorded the album live last year in Padova, Italy, and in the process borrowed a page from the famed ICP Orchestra, which Bennink cofounded in the 60s (and with which Oliver has played for 15 years). The arrangements were essentially crafted on the spot, with members free to add spontaneous accents, corral bandmates to play harmonies or counterpoint, or simply move into another tune (this happens twice as one Lacy theme morphs into another). The fluid and soulful results are a testament to the strength of the players, who not only revere melody but also reflect the kind of improvisational imperative at Lacy’s core. The album concludes with a tune by Thelonious Monk (“Hornin’ In”), a big influence on Lacy, who co-led the Monk tribute band School Days (one of jazz’s first repertory projects) with saxophonist and trombonist Roswell Rudd in the 60s. Bennink can’t fly due to a recent eye procedure, so the very capable Frank Rosaly will fill in. —Peter Margasak

Price: $15

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