Tad Shull | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Tad Shull 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

How much you like Tad Shull will certainly depend on how much you miss Ben Webster, Don Byas, Lucky Thompson, and the other big-toned, harmonically daring tenormen descended from the saxophone fountainhead, Coleman Hawkins. The 38-year-old Shull has built his music on models that predate his own birth: an unabashedly tonal, relentlessly swinging style that he invests with plenty of conviction and all the important nuances (from a supple tone that rides on seamless glissandi to a busy ornamentation, paradoxically fussy and ballsy at the some time). Players like Shull--who has clearly mastered not only his instrument but also a past musical sensibility--raise difficult questions for the jazz community. In classical music such attention to musical forebears would be considered scholarship; in jazz, with the emphasis on innovation and progress, it's usually decried as mere revivalism, It messes with what we think of as the "natural order" of things: while we expect to hear a 65-year-old saxophonist play this music, we raise an eyebrow at the same style's allure for a younger musician. (It's almost as if he were playing Harold to the music's Maude.) Yet players like Shull--warmly embracing such older idioms with neither nostalgia nor irony--force us to rethink these questions as we admire their artistry. Saturday, 8 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway; 878-5552.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Neil Tesser

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
February 18
Performing Arts
February 08

Popular Stories