Samaris Piano Trio | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Samaris Piano Trio 

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One week after the local debut of African Portraits, Hannibal Lokumbe's uncategorizable orchestral ode to his ancestry, comes a chamber counterpart, also written by a multifaceted composer and instrumentalist trained in the jazz tradition. According to the 64-year-old David Baker, who chairs the jazz department at Indiana University, his piano trio Roots II draws from a wide pool of pop styles, including "work songs, field hollers, blues, ragtime, boogie-woogie, rhythm and blues, spirituals, gospel songs, calypso, rock 'n' roll, rap, and of course jazz," though it's in a venerable classical form, as if it were striving for concert-hall respectability. (The first performance was given two years ago by the Beaux Arts Trio at the Library of Congress.) This five-movement suite is a tribute to the black experience in America, and among the bittersweet tableaux it evokes are voodoo rites, church congregations in antebellum New Orleans, revival meetings, and honky-tonks from the 30s to the 50s. Raucous, vital, and ultimately celebratory, Roots II is in the vein of the fusion pieces pioneered by Gunther Schuller and William Russo, both of whom were once Baker's mentors. Its Chicago premiere will be presented by the Samaris Piano Trio (named after an eccentric manor on the island of Jersey), a highly regarded Northwestern University-based group whose members are Molly Fung (violin), Bryan Dumm (cello), and Sylvia Wang (piano). Rounding out the program are Schubert's Notturno op. 118 and Dvorak's folksy Dumky Trio. A preconcert discussion begins at 6:45. Sunday, 7:30 PM, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern University, 1977 South Campus Dr., Evanston; 708-491-5441 or 708-467-4000.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Ascherman Photo.

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