Sam Prekop Band | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Sam Prekop Band 

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SAM PREKOP BAND

The multitude of scribes who've dismissed (or embraced) Sea and Cake front man Sam Prekop's solo debut as "jazz" either haven't listened to the record or have never listened to jazz. Their careless categorizing probably has something to do with the presence of cornetist Rob Mazurek, who contributes a few solos, and Josh Abrams, who plays upright bass. But Prekop's no more a jazz musician than that poofy-haired simp Kenny G. The songs on Sam Prekop (Thrill Jockey) drift on the same currents as his writing for the Sea and Cake: fragile blue-eyed soul melodies with gauzy lyrics and the occasional Brazilian rhythmic accent. Jim O'Rourke's resourceful production twists the orchestral components into hypnotic minimalist patterns, Abrams and drummer Chad Taylor provide a decidedly more elastic rhythmic foundation than the Sea and Cake's John McEntire and Eric Claridge, and apart from some synthesized strings on "Practice Twice" there's nary a sample in sight. But Prekop's breathy croon remains the same, and guitarist Archer Prewitt's still laying down the guitar lines that unobtrusively hold up the roof. A few tunes--like the cool, bubbly samba ditty "Showrooms" or the lush, string-laden "So Shy," which practically morphs into the Young-Holt Unlimited classic "Soulful Strut" by the end--are quite catchy, but most of the album insinuates itself in a more leisurely manner, which may also help explain the unwarranted jazz rap. This group's debut performance at HotHouse earlier this year was visibly shaky, but since then they've polished their act on an east-coast jaunt with Mazurek, who's adapted the string parts for his horn. Opening is Dave Pajo of Aerial M, who also knows a thing or two about mesmerizing repetition. Wednesday, 9 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 773-252-6620. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Chris Miller.

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