Indigo Trio | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Indigo Trio 

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This group's new Live in Montreal, recorded in 2005, captures the first time its members--flutist Nicole Mitchell, bassist Harrison Bankhead, and drummer Hamid Drake--performed as a trio. That's astonishing, not just because they've collaborated so often in other groupings over the decades, but because on the CD they sound like they've spent years absorbing the material (four collective improvisations and two Mitchell originals), hovering together in that sweet spot between detailed lyricism and airy spontaneity. Mitchell is one of Chicago's most talented improvisers and well on her way to becoming jazz's greatest living flute player--great enough to redeem the notion of jazz flute for people who'd otherwise think of Will Ferrell. Here she threads skeins of melody through long-form harmonic structures and terse motific variations, while the rhythm section nonchalantly follows her complex lines as if they'd memorized the schematics beforehand, tugging and tightening where needed. Though Mitchell largely runs the show, there's plenty of space for Bankhead and Drake, whose extended solos effortlessly maintain the music's snap and swing. Live in Montreal is the third album in the online-only Paperback Series on Dave Douglas's label Greenleaf. This early show is a release party; the Jazz Jam with Isaiah Spencer begins at 9. a 6 PM, Velvet Lounge, 67 E. Cermak, 312-791-9050, $15.

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