The Herbaliser | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

The Herbaliser 

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THE HERBALISER

As exemplified by Branford Marsalis's ham-fisted Buckshot LeFonque project, fusions of hip-hop and jazz often end up pitting the two elements against each other, with flashy solos turning tough rhythms flaccid or canned beats boxing live players into tight corners. But on 1997's Blow Your Headphones--their second album as the Herbaliser--Jake Wherry and Ollie Teeba hit on a workable ratio, keeping a tight rein on both the turntable trickery and the jazz doodles. Even when they brought live instruments into the dense mix (including Wherry's own funky organic bass) they were efficiently deployed to provide greater depth or added propulsion. On the more recent Very Mercenary (both records are on Ninja Tune) the hip-hop takes over: the London duo invited more guest MCs--including Philadelphia's Bahamadia and New York's What What--and eliminated some of the embroidery, both live and sampled. There are still some groovy instrumental tracks, like "Goldrush" and "Shattered Soul," but for the most part the Herbaliser acts more like a top-flight production team than a band. That won't be the case for this show, though: Wherry and Teeba are traveling with a percussionist, a drummer, a keyboardist, and three horn players, and while most of the other dates on their U.S. tour feature British rapper Roots Manuva, there are no MCs officially scheduled for this show. The local hip-hop group Rubberoom (see Post No Bills) opens, in its first Chicago appearance in almost a year. Friday, 11 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203. PETER MARGASAK

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