Rhys Chatham Guitar Trio | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Rhys Chatham Guitar Trio 

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Rhys Chatham's brand-new release, A Crimson Grail (Table of the Elements), is beyond epic. The composition that gives the disc its name was scored for 400 electric guitars and performed only once, in October 2005, under the towering dome of Paris's Basilique du Sacre Coeur, which acted as a resonating chamber to generate huge clouds of sound that swooped and spiraled like an albatross riding an updraft. It's a logical extension of his 1989 composition An Angel Moves Too Fast to See, scored for 100 guitars and staged 20 times to date, but Chatham laid out the basic vocabulary of A Crimson Grail--the use of overtones as melodic material and the combination of classical rigor with rock's wall of amplified sound--30 years ago, in one of his very earliest pieces for the instrument. Guitar Trio is the essence of simplicity. On record it lasts for eight minutes, with three guitarists methodically strumming first one, then three, then six strings to create an enormous tension that's only partly relieved by the myriad overtones that swirl around the relentless pulse of the rhythm section; on this tour Chatham plans to beef up the size of the ensemble and play two 20-minute versions of the piece, one with the drummer on hi-hat only and another employing the full kit. In each city he and guitarist David Daniell will be joined by several local players--in this case Todd Rittman, Robert Lowe, Doug McCombs, Jeff Parker, and Ben and Adam Vida on guitars, Josh Abrams on bass, and John McEntire on drums. White/Light and Good Stuff House open. a 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10.

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