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Clusone Trio
For nearly two decades the Amsterdam-based Clusone Trio have been setting jazz neophytes at ease by rattling their sense of propriety. Newcomers are often intimidated by live jazz performances; they can't catch all of the inside jokes, the musical references. A sax player will slickly slide a line from a standard into a wailing solo and all the jazzheads in the room will nod and smile, while the beginner wonders why the hell everyone has a grin pasted to his face.

Two parts Dutch (percussionist Han Bennink; cellist Ernst Reijseger) and one part American expat (saxophonist/clarinetist/flutist Michael Moore), Clusone Trio make big fun with the high art of jazz improv, and they make sure that most everyone gets it. With the occasional splatter of displaced piano racket, toy melodica, or severely agitated rhythms, they infuse a shameless yet charming nuttiness into songs like Irving Berlin's quaintly romantic "When I Lost You," or the Broadway chestnut "There's No Busi-ness Like Show Business." For neophytes, the approach comes off like Charlie Chaplin, not Woody Allen. Unlike the farcical Willem Breuker Kollektief, of which Bennink was a member for a spell, Clusone Trio rise above purely parodic shenanigans with some of the most commanding chops (and vision) on the planet. Moore's a virtuosic wind instrumentalist whose ironic whimsy never outshines his respect for the music. Reijseger can bow, strum, and pluck his bass violin with the tunefulness of a classic jazz guitarist or the wildness of a demon in the throes of a seizure. Bennink makes mighty grooves out of anything that goes boom (or ping), and when you least expect it he may crack the snare with oomph enough to shock you through the ceiling. Tuesday's concert marks the trio's debut appearance in the Bay Area.

-- Sam Prestianni

Clusone Trio perform two sets on Tuesday, May 19, at 8:15 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. at Beanbender's (2295 Shattuck at Bancroft, Berkeley). Tickets are $10; call 621-1967.

 
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