Mal Waldron | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Mal Waldron 

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In one sense, it's no surprise to find pianist Mal Waldron hooked up with saxist Marion Brown. Waldron's history is prominently marked by collaborations with musicians--Billie Holiday, Eric Dolphy, Steve Lacy--who have relied on the visceral impact of their unique sounds, above and beyond more conventional technical considerations. That description certainly fits the elusive Brown, who brings a rough-hewn tone and a Zen-like focus to his now earthy, now otherworldly music. (Brown sounds as if he made the jazz trek of the last 25 years in reverse; hearing him, you'd think he learned "free" jazz first and has explored the more structured forms of music in the spirit of expanding his consciousness.) The booming sonorities of Waldron's blocky chords offer a constant, exploitable framework for Brown; apart from that, Waldron--who has personalized the piano technique of Thelonious Monk more than any other musician--is a wondrous package of quirky phrases, relentless development, and edifying purity. This is a major booking, to be enjoyed amid the paradoxical comfort of Southend Musicworks' new home, in which paint-starved brick and fifth-hand folding chairs coexist with a just-right sound system and picture-window views of the Loop at night. Tonight and Saturday, 8:30 PM, Southend Musicworks, 224 N. Desplaines; 283-0531.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Clint Edwards.

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