Yaptette | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Yaptette 

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Dutch sound artist Jaap Blonk is returning to Chicago for the third time since last spring, and if you think it sounds like he's fallen in love here, you're right, sorta: "The Chicago musicians I got acquainted with have been very open-minded and generous in offering me opportunities to play improvised music with them in various settings to audiences that were really into it," he writes on his Web site. Like German saxophonist Peter Brotzmann, Blonk has decided to parlay his various musical relationships with Chicago players into a formal group: the Yaptette. He's written all-new music for it that he says touches on jazz, contemporary composed music, and avant-rock; he likens it to what he wrote for the raucous but elegant 1999 double CD Consensus (Kontrans), where he performed with a 12-member group that included his bandmates in the experimental rock outfit Braaxtaal as well as great improvisers like tenorist Tobias Delius and violinist Mary Oliver. While his bottomless bag of extreme vocal effects can't help but command attention--after all, the man has made his reputation as an improviser entirely with his mouth--he also gives his collaborators ample space. I have a feeling the Yaptette, with fewer members and an acoustic orientation, won't be as grandiose, but it's hard to guess exactly what it will sound like. The group includes reedists Guillermo Gregorio and Ken Vandermark, percussionist Michael Zerang, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, trombonist Jeb Bishop, pianist Jim Baker, and bassist Kent Kessler. The prospect of hearing some of these Chicagoans interact with a vocalist--even one as weird as Blonk--is exciting. Wednesday, January 16, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

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

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