Francis Wong's Legends & Legacies | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Francis Wong's Legends & Legacies 

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Bay Area saxist Francis Wong plays burly tenor lines with a burred tone, slippery rhythm, and frequent sly references to his Asian heritage. He's showcased these qualities on several discs on Asian Improv Records, a label he cofounded, as well as during frequent visits to Chicago, whose free-music history has inspired him. (Indeed, his work readily suggests the strong influence of two Chicago tenor legends, Fred Anderson and Von Freeman.) For this show Wong will perform with his rarely assembled Legends & Legacies ensemble in its Chicago debut. On its only disc, recorded in 1997 but unreleased until last year, the band used Western and Asian instruments to offer a musical-poetic commentary on the internment of Japanese-American citizens during World War II; the record was a gathering point for several leading west-coast players, including late reedist Glenn Horiuchi on samisen, a three-stringed Japanese lute. Wong will present a new addition to the band's repertoire, "Ghost of Little Boy," which commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, with help from extraordinary pianist Jon Jang, percussionist Elliot Kavee, and spoken-word artist Genny Lim; locals Mwata Bowden (reeds) and Tatsu Aoki (bass, samisen) round out the group. Slanty Eyed Mama, the duo of violinist Lyris Hung and self-described "Asian cultural terrorist" Kate Rigg, opens the program, which kicks off the tenth annual Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival. Sat 10/1, 7:30 PM, Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago, 312-397-4010, $18.

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