Gold Sparkle Band | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Gold Sparkle Band 

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The Gold Sparkle Band's name says flash, but its high-spirited music delivers substance. The quartet's compositions are steeped in a half century of jazz history: the sprawling "Fellowship," on their latest CD, Nu-Soul Zodiac (Squealer), is dedicated to Other Dimensions in Music; on the 1997 Downsizing (Nu), the melodies of "Lamentations (for America)" sound like Mingus, and "Posledni Autobus Z Bratislavy" is tinged with klezmer. Clarinetist and saxist Charles Waters, drummer Andrew Barker, trumpeter Roger Ruzow, and bassist Adam Roberts can make long, episodic suites hang together with aplomb--on "Fellowship" Ruzow and Waters's tightly braided double solos flow into grave and gorgeous unison passages, and on the mournful "Promises of Democracy" the band negotiates a complex series of timbral shifts with the delicacy of a chamber ensemble. But they're even more impressive when they want to be succinct. On "Carousel Lost" they articulate an Ornette-ish opening theme, upend it with a barrage of dizzying solos, and close by reprising it, all in under three minutes; they rip through the blowout "Splintered Synapse" in less than two. Waters and Barker now live in New York, where they also play in William Parker's Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra, but Ruzow and Roberts haven't left the group's first home in Atlanta, so it's not easy for this band to get together; this may be its only area performance in the foreseeable future. Wednesday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. BILL MEYER

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

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