Charlie Kohlhase & Matt Langley | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Charlie Kohlhase & Matt Langley 

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Saxophonists who play together awhile tend to grow together, breathing and bending as one, merging or parrying as a moment demands, blending those rich reedy-brassy overtones. Think Johnny Hodges and Harry Carney, Ornette Coleman and Dewey Redman, Steve Lacy and Steve Potts. Or Charlie Kohlhase and Matt Langley, a duo since 1982. Kohlhase is a mainstay of Boston's permanent (as opposed to student) talent pool; his lithe baritone, neither farty nor overly soft, has buoyed numerous Beantown bands, including Either/Orchestra. Langley, who's based in Maine, has played with Kohlhase since the late 1970s--notably in his quintet, heard with guest trombone Roswell Rudd on the new Eventuality (Nada). On last year's duo recital You Start (Boxholder) Kohlhase (alto, tenor, bari) and Langley (tenor, throaty soprano) nail the telepathic playfulness thing and then some. The pieces are built on intervals not chords, so the saxes can chase off anywhere without losing their way home. Leapfrogging or twining toward the light, they suggest Julius Hemphill's overdubbed 70s solo LPs like Roi Boye & the Gotham Minstrels (finally reissued by Sackville, incidentally). The homage is explicit on "Julius," where Kohlhase evokes Hemphill's parched alto tone and his fleet and punchy charts. Here the two will play as a duo, then for a second set they'll bring in local drummer Ted Sirota, whom Kohlhase knows from Sirota's Boston days, and bassist Jason Roebke. Last time I heard Sirota join outatowners, with Ralph Alessi's quartet at the Cultural Center in August, he found his niche with impressive ease. At the Velvet Lounge with Vancouver's Dylan van der Schyff earlier this month, Roebke nearly faded into the floral wallpaper. But he and Kohlhase go back a ways too, so I expect a rallying comeback. Wednesday, October 31, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

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