Uptighty | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


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Among pop's more casual listeners (and even among some clueless musicians) exists the common misconception that it's the drummer's job to keep time so the rest of the band can sort of follow along. Rhythmically savvy musicians understand, however, that keeping time is everyone's job. And nowhere is this more crucial than in the exacting art of funky dance music, where even a trombone player with a flat-footed time sense can make a crack rhythm section sound sloppy. This is the downfall of all too many well-meaning R & B groups. It also points up why Uptighty--a young, 13-odd-piece, no-bullshit funk unit in which everybody's really on the right wavelength--is something to be appreciated and respected. Stylistic originality is not this band's specialty (think mid-70s Kool & the Gang/Tower of Power, except with a 90s edge and much better songs), but they do have a wonderfully intuitive grasp of their chosen idiom, a spanking-and-cranking rhythm section, a guitarist-compser who never runs out of catchy riffs, a keyboardist who knows exactly how to jab and slash for rhythmic accents, several horn players who don't just dribble out wimpy jazz lines but really honk (including one guy who plays alto saxophone in a credible Maceo Parker style and also doubles on bass clarinet), and three or four vocalists--depending on the night--all capable of fronting this many-headed beast of a band when called upon to do so. Uptighty is an ensemble that really gets the job done, and with a curiously casual charm at that. Saturday, 11 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Marty Perez.

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