Marc Riordan Quartet | Whistler | Jazz | Chicago Reader
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Marc Riordan Quartet Free Member Picks Recommended Soundboard

When: Mon., Oct. 22, 10 p.m., Tue., Oct. 23, 10 p.m. and Wed., Oct. 24, 10 p.m. 2012
Many jazz musicians, regardless of their main instrument, use the piano to compose. Marc Riordan, one of the finest jazz drummers in town, is just such a musician, but he's spent more and more time over the past few years playing piano in public—he improvises freely with Tres Hongos, for instance, and tackles the songs of ragtime genius Scott Joplin with the Great Crush. Riordan recently released Binoculars (Club Nerodia), a quartet album featuring drummer Tim Daisy, bassist Daniel Thatcher, and New York alto saxophonist Peter Hanson (a member of Jason Ajemian's High Life); it's dominated by original postbop tunes that do little to disguise their debt to Thelonious Monk (whose obscure "A Merrier Christmas" gets a brisk reading), Herbie Nichols, and to a lesser extent early Cecil Taylor. The group is sober and rigorous yet buoyant, shaping Riordan's skittering melodies with a precision he can't quite match at the piano. Like bassist Charles Mingus, who released a 1963 solo album called Mingus Plays Piano, Riordan is a good but not great pianist—but he understands his strengths, and plays with an insistent drive and infectiously stammery phrasing. The quartet celebrates the new album with a three-night residency at the Whistler, with Cameron Pfiffner subbing for Hanson. —Peter Margasak

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