Percussionist Claire Rousay makes her Chicago debut at Exposure Series 2019 | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Percussionist Claire Rousay makes her Chicago debut at Exposure Series 2019 

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click to enlarge Claire Rousay

Claire Rousay

Devin de Leon

In jazz, soloists step in front of the band to show their stuff and then retreat back into the ensemble’s framework. Percussionist Claire Rousay, based in San Antonio, Texas, doesn’t play jazz, but her improvisations are just as conscious of the relationship between self and surroundings. She is queer and transgender, and her music addresses the experience of having to be aware of her physical state as well as the gender-associated stereotypes assigned to her instruments. Her approach to performance conscientiously avoids macho forcefulness in favor of patient and fluidly evolving explorations of the timbre, texture, and resonance of her drums, metal bowls, and other objects. Though Rousay hasn’t played in Chicago before, she’ll make up for lost time by playing in three different situations as part of Exposure Series 2019—the fourth annual iteration of an event that introduces new and challenging improvisers to the city’s audiences and musicians—and by participating in Experimental Sound Studio’s Option Series. She opens Thursday night’s concert in a duo with local vocalist Carol Genetti; she appears on Friday in a trio with cellist Katinka Kleijn and trumpeter Graham Stephenson; and as part of Saturday’s free afternoon concert, she gives a solo performance. For her Option Series show on Monday, Rousay plays another solo set and a duet with clarinetist Emily Beisel. Exposure Series 2019 also hosts two other musicians, both of whom will perform solo and in group improvisations with Chicagoans. Brooklyn-based electric guitarist Ava Mendoza plays sci-fi-themed prog-punk in the power trio Unnatural Ways and roughly abstracted blues on her own. Forbes Graham, a trumpeter from Boston, has played full-force free jazz with Marc Edwards and Weasel Walter as well as electronically spacialized solo music.   v

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