Greg Kelley | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Greg Kelley 

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If there's a trumpeter out there more radical than this Boston improviser, it's news to me. He can play relatively straightforward stuff, like the muscular free jazz he's done with saxophonist Paul Flaherty and drummer Chris Corsano, and like kindred spirits Franz Hautzinger, Axel Dorner, Mazen Kerbaj, and Birgit Ulher he's pushed the instrument to all kinds of extremes--hyperabstract minimalist improv in Nmperign, electroacoustic sound fields with tape looper and computer musician Jason Lescalleet, and even brutal amplified noise in Heathen Shame. But it's Kelley's dazzlingly imaginative solo work that really rattles my noggin. The 2000 album Trumpet was practically a catalog of his jarring extended techniques, with many succinct pieces that focused on one particular trick: he manipulates unpitched columns of air, mutes his horn with a metal plate that buzzes against the bell, and uses extreme close miking to create supersaturated low and midrange frequencies that sound about as hornlike as a vacuum cleaner in the apartment upstairs. Half the noises on the record leave me wondering how the hell he made them. "How Can I Ever Misplace You" is a punishing barrage of percussive thwacks floating in an ether of sibilance, and the untitled opener could pass for a corrosive wave of guitar feedback. On last year's I Don't Want to Live Forever (Gameboy) Kelley piles on a battery of new techniques--electronics, computer editing, lo-fi cassette recordings of his own playing--to create a mind-warping fever dream that's almost completely purged of audible references to his instrument. At this show he'll premiere a new work for amplified trumpet called Trumpets Sound and I Hear Thunder Boom, which nicks its title from the lyrics to the Jackie DeShannon tune "When You Walk in the Room." Sat 4/8, 9 PM, 6Odum, 2116 W. Chicago, 773-227-3617, $12. All ages.

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April 10
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Chicago Works: Deborah Stratman Museum of Contemporary Art
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