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Riviera Theatre (map)
4746 N. Racine Ave.
Uptown
phone 773-275-6800

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Park West (map)
322 W. Armitage Ave.
Lincoln Park
phone 773-929-5959

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the Vic (map)
3145 N. Sheffield Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-472-0449

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Metro (map)
3730 N. Clark St.
Wrigleyville
phone 773-549-0203

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Concord Music Hall (map)
2047 N. Milwaukee
Logan Square
phone 773-570-4000

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James Falzone’s Renga Ensemble

Fri., Feb. 27, 9:30 p.m.

When I wrote about Renga a couple of years ago I focused on the potential of this all-reeds sextet, which brings together a crew of excellent improvisers under the direction of one of Chicago’s most thoughtful bandleaders, clarinetist James Falzone. The band includes Chicagoans Keefe Jackson, Ken Vandermark, and Jason Stein as well as two sublime coastal players, San Francisco’s Ben Goldberg and New York’s Ned Rothenberg. And to be sure, the group’s recent debut album, The Room Is (Allos Documents), features plenty of superb, focused improvisation, solo and group. But for me the real accomplishment is Falzone’s writing. The clarinetist embraces Duke Ellington’s famous practice of composing specifically for the individual members of his ensemble—each with his own distinctive tone and vocabulary—while at the same time writing pieces whose rich structure, harmony, and melodic counterpoint encourage freedom. Falzone named the group after a traditional form of Japanese poetry in which several writers blend their lines into a single austere and meditative work, and that concept applies to how these six players combine in both the leader’s deft arrangements and the group’s improvised interplay. The album has six numbered renga (“The First Renga,” “The Second Renga,” etc) featuring a different soloist and five largely through-composed works named after fragments of a haiku by American poet Abita Virgil; together, they create a seamless tapestry of astringent timbre, mournful melody, and elegant shapes. Falzone has explored diverse styles over the last decade, but this project ties them together with fluidity and poise while still balancing on a razor’s edge. Local mainstay Dave Rempis will sub for Goldberg tonight. —Peter Margasak $10

Constellation (map)
3111 N. Western Ave.
Roscoe Village James Falzone’s Renga Ensemble

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The Rack of Khan: A Star Trek Burlesque

Open run: Fri 9 PM

"Kling on me," purrs Captain James T. Kirk as she leans up against a tassel-breasted Lieutenant Worf in Gorilla Tango's The Rack of Khan: A Star Trek Burlesque. In director Erica Reid's final frontier, the crew of the starship Enterprise have had their male parts beamed away by Khan, arch-enemy of Kirk; as the captain, Sheri Blossom projects Shatner's glorious cluelessness from inside Jennifer Garner looks. Trekkies looking for TV-series in-jokes won't find many, but may not care in the face of the booty-shaking enthusiasm of the all-female cast—especially a wild striptease from Evelyn Tensions's Worf. Reid's choreography drives the enjoyably wacky plot without eclipsing the cast's adeptness with puns. Nor does the show shy away from the command "Set phasers to stun." —Chloe Riley $28-$35

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Gorilla Tango Theatre (map)
1919 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Wicker Park/Bucktown
phone 773-598-4549

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Lincoln Hall (map)
2424 N. Lincoln Ave.
Lincoln Park
phone 773-525-2501

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Shlohmo

Fri., April 17, 8 p.m.
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Concord Music Hall (map)
2047 N. Milwaukee
Logan Square
phone 773-570-4000

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Twin Talk, Westerlies

Thu., March 5, 9:30 p.m.

Last year’s stunning Wish the Children Would Come on Home (Songlines) by New York brass quartet the Westerlies did wonders for my appreciation of Wayne Horvitz as a composer. A keyboardist who made his name on New York’s eclectic downtown scene in the 80s, Horvitz, who’d taught all four musicians, asked his former students to record his compositions. Together, trumpeters Riley Mulherkar and Zubin Hensler and trombonists Andy Clausen and Willem De Koch display a remarkable precision and tonal purity—they seem like they could rival any classical brass ensemble in terms of technique—but they’ve got the soul and improvisational heart of jazz musicians. That said, there’s not a whole lot of improvisation on the record (brief, astringent asides last no more than a few bars), though the group’s arrangements are in perpetual motion, and each horn articulates bell-clear counterpoint with ever-changing refractions and voicings. Horvitz imbues many of these tunes with a spirit of Americana—slowly unfolding melodies suggest the wide open spaces of the heartland—and in the hands of the Westerlies that spirit recalls the work of Aaron Copland and, at times, Charles Ives merged with a sharp minimalist ethic. The group’s timbre is gorgeous, imparting a mixture of nostalgia and mournfulness that’s unlike anything I’ve heard in recent years. —Peter Margasak $10

Constellation (map)
3111 N. Western Ave.
Roscoe Village Twin Talk, Westerlies

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Lincoln Hall (map)
2424 N. Lincoln Ave.
Lincoln Park
phone 773-525-2501

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Concord Music Hall (map)
2047 N. Milwaukee
Logan Square
phone 773-570-4000

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Showing 1-15 of 98 total results in this search.