Ned Rothenberg | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Ned Rothenberg 


The versatility of the jazz musician is something you don't hear about all that much. Many jazzers find their niche--Dixieland, postbop, free improv--and settle in for the long haul. Reedist Ned Rothenberg vigorously cuts across specializations yet excels in any context. And there are lots of contexts. He's a member of the evocative reed trio New Winds; he explores cerebral funk patterns in his Double Band; he maintains a long-running collaboration with the stunning Tuvan vocalist Sainko Namtchylak; he investigates computer-tempered work with guitarist Paul Dresher; and on his most recent album, the superb Power Lines (New World), he displays sharp arranging and writing skills. For this rare local gig Rothenberg offers yet another context through which to display his jaw-dropping virtuosity and inventiveness: the solo performance. On his striking 1993 solo collection, The Crux (Leo), Rothenberg reinvented Monk's knotty "Epistrophy," paid tribute to Maceo Parker, played the shakuhachi--the haunting Japanese bamboo flute--and explored saxophone extended technique with an unusually compelling drama. Because he sees music as a macrocosm, his investigations of traditional Japanese music or the unusual singing of the Inuit blends naturally with his mastery of jazz-related approaches. Rothenberg also reconciles an unapologetically cerebral approach with accessibility and emotional expression. No mean feat, indeed. Saturday, 10 PM, Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Cafe, 2827 N. Lincoln; 327-6666. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.

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