Uptown String Quartet | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Uptown String Quartet 

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Uptown String Quartet

Prior to the formation of New York's Uptown String Quartet, its members had jammed together with Max Roach, the venerable jazz-percussionist dad of violist Maxine Roach. The four women decided to join forces permanently six years ago, after cellist Eileen Folson met up with Maxine again in the orchestra pit of a production of Into the Woods. The stringers share a background in classical music: Maxine studied at Oberlin; first violinist Diane Monroe has taught there, holds degrees from the Curtis Institute and Philadelphia Musical Academy, and has performed with several orchestras, including the Brooklyn Philharmonic; second violinist Lesa Terry is a former member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; and Folson put in a short stint with the New York Philharmonic before she started playing on movie sound tracks and in Broadway pit orchestras. Maxine's father lent his good name to their first recorded effort, Max Roach Presents the Uptown String Quartet (Polygram), an eclectic compilation that includes Maxine's Grammy-nominated arrangement of his "Extensions." On its zesty follow-up, Just Wait a Minute (Bluemoon), the Uptown pledges allegiance to its training: its seductive, footloose treatment of Jimmy Heath's "Melodic Strains," for example, has a generous quota of Bartokian moments, and in its arrangement of "Amazing Grace" the quartet approaches the flair and precision of its crossover model, the Kronos Quartet. In fact, the Uptown--which has already been featured on a Spike Lee sound track and various television shows--may give the Kronos, Chick Corea, and Keith Jarrett (all of whom have dabbled in Mozart) a run for their money. The program for this local debut contains well-known jazz numbers arranged by the quartet; for an encore, they may perform contemporary classical selections. Sunday, 3 PM, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, 9501 N. Skokie Blvd., Skokie; 847-673-6300.


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Nina D'Alessandro.


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