Ted Sirota's Rebel Souls | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Ted Sirota's Rebel Souls 

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While hard-bopping neotraditionalists continue to rule the roost in the new jazz mainstream, Chicago--which has spawned the AACM, Hal Russell, and the Ken Vandermark axis--finds itself in the midst of yet another free-jazz revolution. Even some of the city's hard-bop mainstays, like trumpeter Rob Mazurek and saxist Ron Dewar, can now be heard playing freer, more exciting music. Drummer Ted Sirota, who plays weekly at the Green Mill in the Sabertooth Jazz Quintet, and his group Rebel Souls aren't revolutionary per se, but their spirited investigations of the freedom quest embarked upon 40 years ago by Ornette Coleman have generated substantial results. The recent Rebel Roots (Naim) combines free-ish standards by Coleman, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, and Charlie Haden with originals penned by Sirota and group members Jeff Parker (guitar) and Kevin Kizer (tenor sax). While the results are invitingly accessible, they nonetheless represent forward motion. On the group's treatment of Rollins's motific gem "East Broadway Rundown," for example, Sirota boosts the tune's propulsive melody with a funky hip-hop breakbeat, while Parker cranks up his normally gentle tone, puncturing the melody and shadowing the rhythm. Parker's gorgeous tunes, particularly "Four Folks" and "Wait," unfold slowly, and the group handles these more sophisticated, restrained vehicles with the same aplomb as it does the upbeat numbers. When Kizer builds up a full head of steam, as on his tune "Ornettish," his angular phrasing is impressive. Unfortunately he has a tendency to sound tentative, and needs to be prodded along, but for the most part he fits into the group well. Bassist Jeff Hill has left the group since the recording was made; filling his seat for this gig is Josh Abrams. Bass trumpeter Ryan Schultz will sit in. Wednesday, 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.


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

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