Satlah | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Satlah 

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SATLAH

This limber New York jazz trio takes its cues from John Zorn and his Radical Jewish Culture movement, mixing Ornette Coleman-style free jazz with klezmer and eastern European folk music. On Satlah's eponymously titled debut (on Zorn's Tzadik label) Zorn himself appeared as a guest, but he needn't have: saxophonist Danny Zamir, the group's leader, played haunting melodies that could have been lifted from a Masada recording. The album also suffered from the heavy-handed incorporation of spoken-word snippets, ranging from some agitated Yiddish to excerpts from a JFK speech. But on a promising new live album, Exodus, Zamir, bassist Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz, and drummer Kevin Zubek seem to be more interested in exploring Zamir's lovely tunes than in simply proclaiming their allegiances. The klezmer inflections continue to lend the music an air of sorrow, but now they're just one more element to play with. Zamir adds soprano saxophone to his arsenal here, but he remains more exciting on alto, his buoyant, rhythmically deft improvisations bouncing over the frenetic grooves like a raft shooting over white water. This is Satlah's Chicago debut. Thursday, May 24, 6:30 PM, Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington; 312-744-6630 or 312-297-4803.

PETER MARGASAK

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