Ken Vandermark, Paul Lovens & Paul Lytton | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Ken Vandermark, Paul Lovens & Paul Lytton 

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This combination all but suggested itself. The two Pauls have had an occasional percussion duo since the 1970s (and even started a label together, Po Torch). Lytton and Vandermark have an ongoing collaboration. The latter already works with two drummers in his Sound in Action Trio, and he and Lovens have already improvised together a couple times in a trio with cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm. The Pauls have much in common: as second-generation free improvisers who grew up in the wake of John Stevens's and Han Bennink's noisy chopwork, they favor fast, clattery textures, often made by dragging or placing or bouncing objects on top of the drums. But Lytton, a Brit who lives in Belgium, favors drier, more rustling effects, while Germany's Lovens likes to use the drums as resonators to make his metal props ring out. Though fans of free play may forget it, a lot of the great Euro improvisers were weaned on and inspired by jazz, these two not excepted; that helps account for their ability to create driving momentum despite an aversion to "playing time" and their instincts for feeding a soloist. (It's also why drummers who ape their licks but lack their perspective can sound pitiful.) Vandermark's phrasing on saxes or clarinets is often directly dictated by his drummer--on the duets on English Suites (Wobbly Rail), for instance, his choppy phrasing and discreet volume level mirror Lytton's. This lineup promises intense, hyperactive fun. Wednesday, September 4, 8 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Michael Jackson, Annette Berns.

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