From comedy to despair with Jump Rhythm Jazz Project | Performing Arts Sidebar | Chicago Reader

From comedy to despair with Jump Rhythm Jazz Project 

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Jump Rhythm Jazz Project artistic director Billy Siegenfeld has always had a jones for musical theater, and in his new sextet, The Sumptuous Screech of Simplicity, he plays a character who's got a song in his heart—and on his lips. Seated, Siegenfeld delivers a swinging, jazz-phrased version of the Isley Brothers hit "It's Your Thing," his performance embodying the same seductive, assertive, comic energy that drives the dancing. Check out his take on flamenco.

In an entirely different vein, Siegenfeld's despairing There Never Was a War That Was Not Inward—a major overhaul of earlier works about warfare—juxtaposes a 1935 Marc Blitzstein ballad, "Stay in My Arms," with Outkast's "B.O.B." (i.e., "Bombs Over Baghdad") and features Siegenfeld as a burned-out vet.

Company member Kristina Kasper premieres Same Old Shaggy Dress, an emotionally and rhythmically emphatic tap dance set to the Otis Redding classics "Tramp" and "Try a Little Tenderness." Jeannie Hill's For Buster, Kevin Durnbaugh's Shot in the Dark, and Siegenfeld's Why Gershwin? and God of Dirt complete the program.

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