Dave Maddox & Tim Keenan | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Dave Maddox & Tim Keenan 

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DAVE MADDOX & TIM KEENAN

Saxophone-percussion duets first gained prominence in the later music of John Coltrane and soon became an unsurprising format in the jazz avant-garde. But they still ain't everybody's cup of tea, triggering many nomadic explorations filled with austere musical symbolism and a high noise-to-note ratio. Enter the Chicago duo of saxophonist Dave Maddox and drummer Tim Keenan, who perform what they call "The Lineage Duets," a collaboration celebrating "the art of the story" and "the art of melody." Not that they eschew either the wild rides that remain a prime domain of such duos or the free-flowing adventures made uniquely possible by this smallest (and thus least fettered) of musical "groups." But much of the Maddox-Keenan repertoire leans toward the less complex, less fevered side of unstructured improvisation: a more overtly "linear" approach, to borrow from the title of their program. What it comes down to is free jazz for people who don't really like free jazz. At the same time, Maddox and Keenan still pay attention to issues central to this kind of music--such as the push-pull of preparation and spontaneity and the challenge of shaping organic development on the fly. Keenan, who has performed with guitarist Steve Ramsdell and in Ken Vandermark's Steam, has studied the rhythms of both Africa and Brazil. But these influences enter his music idiosyncratically: he adapts rather than mimics them. Maddox, a student of 20th-century classical composers, brings to the tenor an impressive range of both timbre and emotional conveyance that suggests the influence of Fred Anderson. Tuesday, 10 PM, Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Cafe, 2827 N. Lincoln; 327-6666. NEIL TESSER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.

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