KG Price Group, Shofar | Heaven Gallery | Jazz | Chicago Reader
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KG Price Group, Shofar 

When: Sat., Feb. 23, 9 p.m. 2013
Price: donation requested
Over the past few years Polish reedist Mikolaj Trzaska has earned a reputation around these parts for his fiery improvisations and take-no-prisoners energy—in 2008 he performed at the Umbrella Music Festival, and in 2011 and 2012 he played here in Ken Vandermark’s Resonance Ensemble. In the trio Shofar, with guitarist Raphael Roginski and drummer Macio Moretti, a different but equally intense side of Trzaska comes through. Roginski founded the group in 2006 to interpret traditional Jewish music, particularly Hasidic nigunim, which are meditative expressions of faith that employ the principle of improvisation on a theme within a framework. Nine of the eleven tracks on the trio’s self-titled 2007 debut for Kilogram Records are versions of pieces selected from among the hundreds of Hasidic songs that Soviet musicologist Moshe Beregovski chronicled in Ukraine, Poland, and Moldavia in the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s. Shofar play the sorrow-streaked melodies with open-hearted gravitas even as the three of them toy with rhythms and stretch the tunes with free-jazz vigor. Roginski has a masterful ability to reinvent traditional material—for his 2009 album Bach Bleach (Multikulti), he played Bach on solo guitar—and he’s absorbed Shofar’s source material thoroughly, so that his improvisations never abandon the tone or themes of a composition. At the same time, the group injects the music with modern energy that heightens the core emotion, whether it’s turbulent chaos or aching tenderness. —Peter Margasak See also Sunday. The KG Price Group headlines; Shofar opens.

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