Steinski, Hamid Drake-William Parker Duo | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Steinski, Hamid Drake-William Parker Duo 

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Steve Stein, aka STEINSKI, became one of the most influential figures in hip-hop almost by accident. In 1983 Tommy Boy Records sponsored a remixing contest to boost the sagging sales of a 12-inch called "Play That Beat Mr. D.J." by G.L.O.B.E. & Whiz Kid. Stein and his pal Doug DiFranco (aka Double Dee) had their way with the track, winning the contest with a compositional patchwork of samples that was a quantum leap beyond the usual purloined bass lick or drum break--they treated sampling as an art form in its own right, not just a utilitarian shortcut, and paved the way for radical turntablists like DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist. Their entry, "Lesson One: The Payoff Mix," includes everything from bits of Culture Club's "I'll Tumble 4 Ya!" to Humphrey Bogart quotes from Casablanca--unlike most remixers of the day, Steinski didn't stop with Top 40 radio when he went hunting for samples, and he worked to keep them pertinent to the song's lyrics as well as its musical direction. He and Double Dee created two more "lessons" before parting ways in 1985, one a salute to James Brown and the other a compact history of hip-hop, but due to problems with sample clearance none of the three has ever been legitimately released. Though Steinski continues to work as a remixer and is still wildly talented, he'll probably never top that initial salvo--once you've fired a shot heard round the world, it's tough to make a bigger noise. --Peter Margasak

If there's a groove that bassist WILLIAM PARKER and drummer HAMID DRAKE can't make their own, I haven't heard it, and they're equally masterful in the free fall of meterless total improvisation. Their empathetic and fearless accompaniment of fiery saxophonists like Peter Brotzmann, Fred Anderson, and Kidd Jordan has made them one of the most celebrated rhythm sections in free jazz, but the best window on their versatility is the 2001 disc Piercing the Veil (Aum Fidelity), their debut as a duo. Playing not just trap set and double bass but a myriad of exotic percussion and wind instruments, they summon the sort of spiritually conscious third-world vibe once explored by Ed Blackwell and Drake's old mentor Don Cherry. Drake and Parker recently recorded a second album, which should be available early next year, and while neither is a stranger to Chicago stages this is the first time they've played here as a duo. --Bill Meyer

Steinski headlines, Drake and Parker play third, Bird Show goes on second, and Kayo Dot opens. (Trapist, originally in the second slot, canceled shortly before press time.) This show is part of Adventures in Modern Music; see page TK for a complete schedule. a 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $15.

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