David Boykin Expanse | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

David Boykin Expanse 

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Thirty-some years ago, New York's jazz vanguard was dominated by blustery saxophonists modeled on Ayler and Coltrane. Then a new saxophone style from Chicago hit free jazz like a missile. Roscoe Mitchell and Anthony Braxton's staccato articulation and leaping wide intervals soon became a signature sound of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, the co-op that nurtured them, and from there went on to influence wind players around the world. But few have turned it to such good advantage as current AACM member and tenor saxist David Boykin, who brings back some of the style's initial crackle. Partly it's because he has the smarts not to follow the template too closely: some old AACM groups threw out the rhythm section, but on the title track to 47th Street Ghost (Dreamtime), his imminent CD with his quintet Expanse, he runs his bobbing zigzags over the prize trio of pianist Jim Baker, firecracker drummer Isaiah Spencer, and driving and deep-toned bassist Josh Abrams. AACM bands often find room for neglected instrumental colors, and in this respect Boykin's true to form, sharing the front line with Nicole Mitchell, one of those rare folks who inspire hope for the jazz flute. With her sliding low intervals and piercing upper-register attack she sounds doleful and birdlike by turns, and she lays off the Rahsaan/Jethro Tull shrieks. The piston-driven melody "Jiffy Pop" and the flute and bass clarinet timbres on "Antimatter" recall early-60s modernist Eric Dolphy, the New York-based player who anticipated the AACM with his own leaping angular lines, fresh tone colors, and good rhythm section. But Boykin's backing trio plays its own modern games with time, pulling against or leaning into the beat for yet more expansive thrills. At these engagements the regular lineup will be joined by Kevin Nabors on tenor sax and Aaron Getsug on baritone. Wednesday, January 9, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. Friday, January 11, 9:30 PM, Velvet Lounge, 21281/2 S. Indiana; 312-791-9050.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Jackson.

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