Electrics | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


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Derek Bailey and Evan Parker pioneered free improvisation in the 60s by doing away with idiomatic trappings, but since then the free-improv vocabulary has become just as restrictive as the conventions of mainstream jazz. The members of north European quartet the Electrics represent an emerging international community of musicians who reject all fixed notions of genre. Recorded in Stockholm last year, the group's excellent new Live at Glenn Miller Cafe (Ayler) was improvised on the spot, but the players aren't afraid to swing, deliver straight-ahead melodies, or bump up against one another to explore extreme harmonies. Driven by explosive Swedish drummer Raymond Strid--best known as a member of Gush with reedist Mats Gustafsson and pianist Sten Standell--the Electrics can play free jazz with the fiery intensity of 60s icons like Albert Ayler and Peter Brotzmann, but they're not all about blowing down the house. German trumpeter Axel Dorner, one of the instrument's most versatile practitioners, can veer from postbop phrasing to splashes of unpitched breath; on the disc he employs one of his trademark tricks, making his horn sound like a car engine turning over. He and Swedish reedist Sture Ericson shadow each other like seasoned beboppers, while Norwegian bassist Ingebrigt Haaker Flaten (now based in Chicago) both grounds and propels the music. This is the quartet's first Chicago appearance; Ken Vandermark spins between sets. Members also play in small groups with local musicians earlier in the week at the Hungry Brain; see Sunday for more info. And for those reading this on Thursday, November 9, Electrics members perform at 9 PM at Elastic, 2830 N. Milwaukee; call 773-772-3616. a 9:30 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $10.


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