Willem Breuker Kollektief | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Willem Breuker Kollektief

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How do you describe the indescribable? The Willem Breuker Kollektief sounds like the pit band from a Kurt Weill-Bertolt Brecht musical; the show they put on is something like Spike Jones, or Sun Ra meeting Madame Florence Foster Jenkins, or the left-wing musical equivalent of the Naked Gun movies--but all of these on a high musical level. The Kollektief's raw material is modern Europe's high and low culture: Rachmaninoff collides with rock, sleazy Valkyries ride merry-go-round rhythms, tangos are arthritic and polkas stagger wildly, and boogie and bebop are strangled into a free-jazz hell. It's all played with straight faces to the pounding of nonstop rhythm, and slapstick routines are an inevitable part of the performance--this band must be seen to be believed. It's often impossible to tell what's serious and what isn't, for into all the madness they may interject a straightforward piece by Gershwin, Weill, or a Baroque composer. Even more than satire these ten subversives love drama; they're from Holland, where jazz and theater combined are a tradition. What's most obvious is the quality of the musicianship, especially that of the marvelously lyrical alto saxophonist Andre Goudbeek and chief composer/multiwoodwind artist Willem Breuker, who has been a major force in European jazz's distinctive renaissance for more than two decades. Saturday, 8 PM, Southend Musicworks, 1313 S. Wabash; 939-2848.

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