Goran Ivanovic & Fareed Haque | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Goran Ivanovic & Fareed Haque 

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On their newly released CD, Macedonian Blues: Laments and Dances (Proteus), Chicago guitarists Goran Ivanovic and Fareed Haque concentrate on the music of a war-torn nation--Macedonia being one of the Balkan countries formerly part of Yugoslavia, Ivanovic's birthplace. These days, when Americans have a heightened sensitivity to world crises, this set of melancholy folk songs, recorded the month before the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., packs a timely emotional punch--but Ivanovic and Haque have forged a partnership that'd be impressive with or without an extra nudge from international politics. The 38-year-old Haque possesses one of the great guitar techniques in modern music--even after nearly 20 years on the Chicago scene, his classical work can still leave audiences openmouthed--and he also has plenty of experience exploring the alluring niches of musical multiculturalism. The child of a Pakistani father and a Chilean mother, he has drawn regularly on traditions from Asia and South America in his own projects, which have ranged from flawless interpretations of folk material to impassioned jazz fusion (with stints as a sideman with Paquito D'Rivera and Sting along the way). I don't know whether the 24-year-old Ivanovic will eventually develop an improvisational range to equal Haque's, but he can already match his colleague in terms of virtuosic technique. Ivanovic likewise is hardly bound by the written note; indeed, both guitarists use lavish ornamentation and elastic tempos to transform the folk melodies of Macedonian Blues into fantasias that cross musical as well as geographic boundaries. Similarly, their empathy transcends their differences in background and age, so that even under extraordinary conditions they can build extraordinary duets: on September 21, the opening night of this year's much diminished World Music Festival, they fully redeemed Haque's statement that they hoped to create a healing harbor--and did it without sacrificing any of the music's fireworks. Thursday, December 27, 8 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo; 312-362-9707.

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