Dave McDonnell Quartet | Hungry Brain | Jazz | Chicago Reader
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Dave McDonnell Quartet Recommended Soundboard

When: Sun., May 4, 10 p.m. 2014
Saxophonist and composer Dave McDonnell moved to Cincinnati in 2009 for grad school (he now teaches college courses in music and technology), but like so many other jazz musicians who’ve cut their teeth in Chicago and then moved on, he’s maintained close ties to the city’s music scene. His voice as a composer has come through loud and clear in the sextet Herculaneum, but though he’s led his own projects off and on for years, not till this quartet did he finally commit to fronting a regular working jazz band playing his own material. He made The Dragon and the Griffin (New Atlantis) with a couple of locals—drummer Frank Rosaly and bassist Joshua Abrams—and versatile New York guitarist Chris Welcome. (A few short pieces braid McDonnell’s alto saxophone with ruminative lines from two guest musicians, also Chicagoans: vibist Jason Adasiewicz and cellist Tomeka Reid.) I heard the quartet play music from the album last spring, and the recording is just as excellent as that gig. McDonnell is playing with more confidence and melodic generosity than ever, and his snaking postbop tunes streamline ideas from African funk and postrock (he’s also worked in the weirdo rock bands Bablicon, Icy Demons, and Michael Columbia). His writing combines corkscrewing lines and rhythmic ferocity, and this first-tier band helps both those qualities stand out vividly. For this show Adasiewicz will sub for Welcome. —Peter Margasak

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