Thomas Borgmann Trio | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Thomas Borgmann Trio 

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THOMAS BORGMANN TRIO

It's hard to ignore the torrent of saxophonists heading the revival in postfreedom jazz--but it's also getting hard to tell them apart. Something similar happened in bebop, then again in the 50s, in 70s fusion, and especially in the neoclassical 80s: a popular genre inspires more innovators, but also supports more imitators, and you end up with a lot of people pulling their tricks from the same bag. But Berlin-based reedist Thomas Borgmann has carved his own niche in the current postfreedom wave. On tenor he sounds nothing like Evan Parker, or like his countryman Peter Brštzmann (with whom he has recorded), or even like such contemporaries as Mats Gustafsson or Ken Vandermark. Instead his playing references the early days of the AACM and echoes Fred Anderson's broad country lyricism, bluff attack, and dark, wide tone. When Borgmann switches to soprano, you can hear traces of Joseph Jarman in the sparkly high notes and furiously focused passages, and the blues-harmonica sighs in a lengthy piece called "Nastysweet"--from Borgmann's latest album, BOOM Swing (Konnex)--recall "The Little Suite" from Roscoe Mitchell's Sound (the very first AACM recording). BOOM Swing was recorded in the spring of '97, only a few months before the death of Denis Charles, the ebullient drummer in Borgmann's trio, and because of the tight interplay that drives its music, the band will surely sound different in this Chicago performance, despite the continued presence of bassist Wilber Morris. But Reggie Nicholson now fills the drum chair, and his well-documented versatility--he's performed with artists as disparate as Myra Melford and Sonny Rollins--ensures that he can carry on in Charles's place. Wednesday, 8 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo; 312-362-9707. NEIL TESSER

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

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