Cube | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Cube 

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The versatile and learned new-music collective Cube is at its funky best in alternative venues like Cafe Voltaire: improvisation-minded and jazz--influenced, the performers--most of them academics--loosen up, ready to turn the space into an intellectual's cabaret. For this season opener, Cube's core ensemble--Caroline Pittman (flute), Janice Misurell-Mitchell (voice and flute), Jeffrey Kust (guitar), Patricia Morehead (oboe and English horn), Dane Richeson (percussion), and Philip Morehead (keyboard)--will revive local jazz musician Douglas Ewart's Red Hills, a masterful ode to his native Jamaica, and When the Moon Jumps by Lawrence University's Ken Schaphorst, which underpins Count Basie's big-band sound with Ghanaian drumming rhythms. Richeson, who's studied in Ghana, will bang on a variety of African drums. He'll also improvise an extended duet with cellist Matthew Turner; both musicians are colleagues of Schaphorst's at Lawrence. Two of Misurell-Mitchell's hybrid compositions are on the bill: her latest piece for solo steel-stringed guitar, Dark Was the Night, embellishes a Ry Cooder number based on a blues spiritual; Scat/Rap Counterpoint updates Brechtian music theater. Three other solo pieces--Kathleen Ginther's meditative Wind Pool, John Anthony Lennon's flashy Echolalia, and contemporary Russian composer Edison Denisov's Solo for Oboe--all experiment with instrumental techniques. The echo effects for flute in the Lennon are stunning. Sunday, 7 PM, Cafe Voltaire, 3231 N. Clark; 528-3136.

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