Critic's Choice/ music | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Critic's Choice/ music 

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It can't have surprised anyone that this aptly named world-music band achieved its greatest burst of popularity after a spot on the National Public Radio program All Things Considered a year or two ago: a heaven-sent pairing of music and audience if ever one existed. The radio program mixes unique voices and world-spanning reports, high-toned conversation with clever (and occasionally self-satisfied) insights. So does Trio Globo. Chicago pianist and harmonica wizard Howard Levy, for example, has a special affection for the music of South America, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean; the latter two mesh with Glen Velez's expertise on various frame drums and deep knowledge of Arabic and North African rhythmic traditions. Velez and Eugene Friesen, a classically trained cellist, have both logged long stints in the Paul Winter Consort, playing Winter's pioneering hybrid of folk and classical musics--an ingredient that also intrigues the classically trained Levy, who played a key role in the early-90s success of banjoist Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. (Less explicably, the Trio Globo recipe also includes a dash of eastern European schmaltz, which crops up on an irregular but welcome basis.) With this much going through their learned heads, these three musical explorers run the risk of trivializing the multiple traditions they feed on. Instead, their music most often suggests and exploits the similarities that surprisingly undergird so many of those traditions (Family of Man proponents, take note). For my money, the group works best with Levy on harmonica, where he cements its rural-ethnic foundation, but his abilities as a pianist also allow Trio Globo to motor along as a semiconventional jazz trio when the need arises. Saturday, 8 PM, Bop Shop, 1807 W. Division; 773-235-3232.


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Trio Globo.


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