Rob Clearfield Quintet | Green Mill | Jazz | Chicago Reader
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Rob Clearfield Quintet 

When: Sat., Aug. 10, 8 p.m. 2013
Price: $12
Chicago keyboardist Rob Clearfield is one of the most adaptable talents on the local jazz scene, whether articulating Matt Ulery’s cinematic vision in Loom or writing austere, classically influenced solo piano pieces for his own A Thousand Words. He reveals perhaps the dominant aspect of his musical personality on the new The Long and Short of It, a self-released quintet album steeped in jazz-rock fusion. Drummer Eric Montzka maintains an admirably light touch (a few cumbersome fills aside), preferring distended swing grooves over hard backbeats, but the frequent unison lines—played by Clearfield on acoustic and electric piano, saxophonist Scott Burns, and guitarist John Kregor—tend to evoke the heavy-handedness of overcomplicated prog rock. There are welcome moments of repose—the moody, billowing “Sitting Cross-Legged,” or the pretty ballad “What Are You Doing Here?”—but much of the music gets bogged down in fussy technique and tricky writing. The fifth member of the quintet is electric bassist Patrick Mulcahy, Clearfield’s partner in the more explicitly prog-rock District 97. —Peter Margasak

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