Jim Cooper, Kathy Kelly & Carl Leukaufe | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Jim Cooper, Kathy Kelly & Carl Leukaufe 

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Jim Cooper has talked for years about building a concert around multiple vibraphonists, and now he gets his wish: when they all play together, as will happen on at least a couple of numbers, the polyphonic shimmer may resemble heat rising off pavement. Cooper has quietly grown into a most listenable improviser. His recent album Nutville, his second (on Delmark), shows tremendous growth since his earlier Tough Town; he's developed a confident, responsive musical maturity to go along with his fluent (if occasionally mannered) postbop patois. Chronologically, Cooper fits in the middle of this mallet trio, between the bebop veteran Carl Leukaufe--who can summon up some of bop's explosive fire--and Kathy Kelly, who in her own bond offers refreshing rhythms and colors. The idea of three vibists sharing one stage isn't new, to Chicago: drummer Wilbur Campbell, who also plays vibes, has knocked the concept around on more than one occasion. (Perhaps by no coincidence, Campbell will be drumming for this concert.) For those harboring the unasked question--well, yes, it could end up sounding like a glockenspiel factory when the five o'clock whistle blows. But to combat that, Cooper says he hopes to explore the "textural possibilities." The group also includes bassist Dan Shapero and the uncluttered piano work of Bob Dogan. Friday, 9 PM, Wooden Gallery, 1007 N. Wolcott; 342-2550.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Bill Klewitz, Katherine Morse Chappell.

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