Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Ted Sirota and the Chicago Sound

One thing about Chicago's improvising artists: they could play "Mary Had A Little Lamb" and it would sound different. It would sound like the special cats who are playing it. Whether you are talking about Von Freeman, the Art Ensemble, Ken Vandermark, or, going way back, the original "Chicago School," the best of Chicago musicians have carefully gone their way, crafting their own personal musical identities over time. So that if they play a reggae sort of tune, say, or afropop, funk, the Flintstones theme song, whatever it is, you say as you hear it, "that's __ playing." The stylistic veneer, the reference is there, but it's primarily a vehicle for what THEY sound like.

All this is true of drummer Ted Sirota's Rebel Souls ensemble. Their Breeding Resistance (Delmark) CD exemplifies what makes Chicago important as a musical center. This is no "second city" music. It's "first city" music. The lineup of Jeb Bishop on trombone, Geof Bradfield on tenor and soprano, Jeff Parker, guitar, and Clark Sommers on bass creates a fiercely individual sound, which owes as much to the loose arrangements and quirky compositions as the strongly individual solo power involved.

There's fine music here throughout. And who can fault the leader for dedicating the music to the fight against oppression, wherever it may be found?

You will find a little of everything in this program, and again, it's done so well, so much in the spirit of the players' identities, that it emerges from the speakers as ONE sound, albeit bifurcated into various grooves and moods. Don't miss this one.

There's a new Sirota disk just coming out which I will cover soon.

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