James Moody | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

James Moody 

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Standard forms of musical logic don't apply at all to James Moody's art; instead, his improvisations (on the flute and tenor and alto saxes) depend on bop logic. He'll transform the ballad "Autumn Leaves" into a fast rabble-rouser, the rabble-rouser "Cherokee" into a ballad, or he'll play "Beer Barrel Polka" not as a joke but as a straightforward vehicle for fleet, hard-swinging lyricism. Nevertheless, there's a low-down sense of humor and an essential spirit of musical adventure in his ideas. His melodic phrases don't just flow, they leap about and jostle each other. He's quite dependent on his songs' harmonic structures for his own solos, and his passionate flights sometimes flutter beyond the bounds of the chord changes. In his younger days he was one of the first beboppers, and he's still one of the leading advocates of bop's romance. He'll be joined by an equally swinging rhythm section of Willie Pickens on piano; Larry Gray on bass; and Wilbur Campbell on drums. Tuesday to Thursday, 8 and 10 PM, next Friday and Saturday, June 12 and 13, 9 and 11 PM, and next Sunday, June 14, 4, 8, and 10 PM, Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase, 636 S. Michigan; 427-4846.

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