Rufus Reid's Linear Surroundings | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Rufus Reid's Linear Surroundings 

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Rufus Reid's playing epitomizes the conflicting faces the bass has presented to modern jazz. Ever since Oscar Pettiford and Ray Brown developed the technique that made the instrument a solo vehicle, it's been torn between its traditional place as a rhythmic anchor and a spot in the front line. In the 70s, after graduating from Northwestern, Reid did as much as anyone to bridge that division, marrying old-fashioned tone to newfangled virtuosity; in the process he influenced two generations of mainstream bassists, first with the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, then as an in-demand sideman, and later leading his own bands. In the past 15 years he's also indulged his penchant for classical performance and composition, and Linear Surroundings, which he wrote in 2003, will get its fourth-ever performance here. Reid has said that the four-movement, 60-minute piece is neither jazz nor classical, but it actually qualifies as both. Linear Surroundings uses materials, motifs, and voicings that easily fit into a modern classical framework, as well as cello, French horn, and the conservatory-trained soprano of Dana Hanchard. Reid will populate the score with an assortment of top-notch New York players, most of whom rarely if ever get to Chicago, making this even more of a must-hear performance. The lineup includes reedists Rich Perry and Marty Ehrlich, playing (respectively) tenor sax and bass clarinet, and, most excitingly, pianist Sumi Tonooka, whose handful of recordings remain among the most distinctive trio performances released in the 90s. The Gary Burton Quartet Revisited performs in the pavilion at 8 PM. Thu 6/15, 6 PM, Martin Theatre, Ravinia Festival, Green Bay & Lake Cook Rds., Highland Park, 847-266-5100, $10-$40. All ages.

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