Ernest Dawkins & the Chicago 12 | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Ernest Dawkins & the Chicago 12 

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Ernest Dawkins, the powerful Chicago altoist with the prickly-pear tone, started his New Horizons Ensemble in the late 70s, and over the course of a half-dozen or so albums he's established the quintet as one of the most persuasive bands in AACM history. Now he's cast a wider net: on his new album Dawkins leads a dozen of Chicago's finest postfreedom improvisers in an extended composition, Misconception of a Delusion Shades of a Charade, marking the 35th anniversary of the Chicago Seven conspiracy trial. Part of the aftermath of the frenzied 1968 Democratic convention, the trial left its mark on practically everyone who witnessed it, and Dawkins's piece captures its helter-skelter craziness in his broad, tough themes, in the bright, slippery ensemble work, and in the oversize solos (especially those by trumpeter Corey Wilkes). He also conveys the vaudeville humor that distinguished the trial--both intentional (courtesy of Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin) and unintentional (courtesy of Judge Julius Hoffman)--and in the opening movement addresses the racism that led to the severance of Bobby Seale's case from that of the other defendants. It's a big subject, and Dawkins renders it in big, bold, delicious music. This concert celebrates the release of the CD, which was recorded live last January at the Sons d'hiver festival in Paris. A Coltrane tribute set featuring Dawkins and several other Chicago 12 members opens the show, followed by a group starring three more of the 12: Wilkes and saxists Greg Ward and Aaron Getsug. Fri 1/7, 8 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $20, $15 for students.

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

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