Jorrit Dijkstra | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Jorrit Dijkstra 

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In the 1990s alto saxophonist Jorrit Dijkstra apprenticed in some of Amsterdam's better genre-bending groups--pianist Guus Janssen's game-playing septet, violist Maurice Horsthuis's tuneful chamber orchestra, Joost Buis's Sun Ra cover band the Astronotes. Soloing beside heavyweights like tenorist Tobias Delius, Dijkstra could sound a bit green, as he struggled to digest the dual influences of Steve Coleman and Michael Moore, but he was always soaking up good ideas. He's blossomed in the few years since 2002, when he began dividing his time between Amsterdam and Boston, his current base, where he works with various Beantowners and the Vancouver band Talking Pictures. Sound-Lee, a recent quartet CD with Janssen that spotlights Lee Konitz tunes (on GeestGronden; I wrote the liner notes), shows his increasing independence of mind and ability to think on his feet. He's also become enamored of the Lyricon (a 70s woodwind synthesizer rarely used to good effect) and that present-day scourge, the onstage laptop, but he gets more out of either than most. On last year's polished 30 Micro-Stems (Trytone), he layers, shadows, and loops acoustic and electronic lines in real time, fleetingly recalling Lol Coxhill's old Echoplex spirals. Dijkstra keeps the colors and textures varied and subject to rapid change, rarely letting you forget every fancy gesture is tied to fragile human breath. But a couple of his best devices are purely saxophonic: a front-loaded attack that pops like popcorn and alternate fingerings to make one pitch undulate in place (modern ideas you can trace back to the 1920s and '30s). In Chicago he'll play solo, then bring up bassist Kent Kessler, trombonist Jeb Bishop, and synth whiz Jim Baker, who have lots of experience putting visiting improvisers at ease or kicking them in the butt, whichever the occasion calls for. Friday, April 18, 9 PM, Candlestick Maker, 4432 N. Kedzie; 773-463-0158.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Maria Pia Kille.

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