Bob Dylan & His Band, Mavis Staples | Ravinia Festival | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan

Christopher Polk

Bob Dylan & His Band, Mavis Staples 

When: Fri., June 24, 7:30 p.m. 2016
Price: $49-$160
Last month Bob Dylan released Fallen Angels (Columbia), his second consecutive survey of the Great American Songbook, and a suggestion that there’s more to his current act than simply paying homage to Frank Sinatra, which is how most people made sense of last year’s Shadows in the Night. Since few artists have demonstrated such mastery and knowledge of the enormity of American music this phase shouldn’t seem that surprising, even if five decades ago the repertoire would’ve been at odds with the roots and early rock ’n’ roll at Dylan’s aesthetic heart. The arrangements on the new album feature a casual postmodern approach, juggling various strands of pre-WWII pop, jazz, and country to support Dylan’s ragged and raspy croon. On the one hand his tattered voice sounds absurd delivering these timeless melodies, but on the other his knack for phrasing is beyond compare; he could never work these songs like Sinatra, but he does bring something to them, especially with languid, small-group arrangements crawling behind him. Recent sets have liberally showcased this repertoire, undoubtedly crowding out the originals most fans want to hear—and while I can’t imagine Dylan will stick with this obsession for much longer, for the moment I’m satisfied. This is his first appearance at Ravinia since 1964.
— Peter Margasak
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