Matthias Schubert | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Matthias Schubert 

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I've heard only one of the three albums made by the German tenor saxophonist Matthias Schubert, but on Blue and Grey Suite (Enja, 1995) he plays like he may never get the chance to record another one. No one could confuse Schubert with David Murray, but both men improvise in great rushes of sound, with melodic riffs and phrases barreling through their horns almost faster than a listener can absorb them. Schubert's playing is distinguished by its rhythmic agility; he swings like mad, and though his solos perpetually sound like they're about to charge out of control, they never do. The resulting tension between his accelerations and decelerations and his rhythm section is thrilling. Although his originals here are jazz tunes through and through, Schubert is apparently also a fine improviser, which makes the presence of bassist and fellow German Dieter Manderscheid appropriate. Manderscheid's background is in knotty free improvisation; he's a regular collaborator of Frank Gratkowski, contributing a hefty sound to the reedist's latest album, Kollaps (Red Toucan), and all three have worked together in Europe. Local trombonist Jeb Bishop and percussionist Michael Zerang round out the quartet. Wednesday, December 12, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

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