Gregg Bendian's Interzone | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Gregg Bendian's Interzone 

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Everybody knows Gregg Bendian plays the drums--he played them in Cecil Taylor's band in the 80s, and on several projects with British new-music doyen Derek Bailey, including the notorious The Sign of 4 with Pat Metheny and Paul Wertico. But he's also always played the vibraphone, and in his band Interzone he plays it exclusively--the better to expound upon his composing, which has occupied more and more of his time and earned him several grants over the last decade. Bendian the vibist can just about make you forget Bendian the drummer, with his sustained and abrasive sound effects, crisp solo lines played so fast the mallets disappear in a blur, and gently roiling countermelodies. The drumming in Interzone is handled by imaginative but subtle colorist Alex Cline--who here also gets to back his brother, agile and intrepid guitarist Nels Cline. The Cline boys have an almost eerie rapport, but it doesn't outstrip their connection with Bendian's vibing; with Joel Hamilton on acoustic bass, balancing the guitar's electronic theatrics, Interzone projects a remarkable unity of purpose. The band's latest recording, Requiem for Jack Kirby (Atavistic), takes inspiration from the visionary artwork of the man who brought to life the signal superheroes of Marvel Comics' golden age--including the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the Hulk, and Thor. The seven pieces range from easy lyricism to complex angularity, but consistently provide grist for strong extended development in the solos. And hey: the CD "booklet"--which folds out into a 14-inch-square poster depicting an epic conflagration in grand Kirby style--is itself worth the price of the disc. Thursday, October 4, 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508.

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