Ned Rothenberg's Sync | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Ned Rothenberg's Sync 

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New York-based reedist Ned Rothenberg has made his reputation as a master of extended technique, filling his improvised sound sculptures with clicks and growls, multiphonic spurts, and hypnotic interlocking patterns fueled by circular breathing. It's a style inspired by Evan Parker--with whom Rothenberg has performed and recorded--and it makes his current project, a tuneful bass-and-drums trio called Sync, seem surprisingly conventional. It differs from most jazz trios by replacing the trap set with tabla--played by Indian-born Samir Chatterjee, who's regularly accompanied Ravi Shankar on U.S. tours--but even this instrumentation is pretty tame for a guy whose collaborators have included new-music noisemakers like Samm Bennett, Elliott Sharp, and John Zorn. Get past the shock of hearing Rothenberg playing straightforward melodies, though, and you've got a lovely, forceful band blending East and West with skill and restraint. A good deal of the credit goes to Sync's third member, the marvelous Jerome Harris, who alternates on acoustic guitar and acoustic bass guitar. Though overlooked by the general public, Harris has been a regular member of Sonny Rollins's group and Ray Anderson's Alligatory Band, and has graced sessions led by Jack DeJohnette, Bobby Previte, and Henry Threadgill; his work on both instruments always stands out for its sensitivity and drive--qualities that make him ideal for a format as intimate as this one. They seem to inspire Rothenberg, too: on last year's Port of Entry (Intuition), he sings out the buoyant (and only occasionally Indocentric) tunes on alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet, and shakuhachi, revealing a gracious and emotionally satisfying lyricism that's often been obscured by his otherworldly pyrotechnics. Friday, February 23, 9 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo; 312-362-9707.



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