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Ben Allison Band 

When: Fri., Nov. 15, 9 p.m. and Sat., Nov. 16, 8 p.m. 2013
Price: $12
On his forthcoming album, The Stars Look Very Different Today (due December 3 on his Sonic Camera imprint), New York bassist and composer Ben Allison pushes his music closer to rock but maintains his band’s jazz-bred interactivity, malleability, and improvisational ethos. He borrowed its title from David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” and the rock influence is inescapable from the first track to the last. Album opener “D.A.V.E.” sounds like Allison’s take on Chicago postrock—he strums chords with a folded subway card while drummer Allison Miller plays a tightly coiled beat—and the closing cut, the improvised piece “Improvisus,” combines a catchy, narcotic bass groove with jagged, coarsely textured loops and licks from guitarist Brandon Seabrook. Allison has worked with a terrific assortment of horn players (Michael Blake, Ron Horton, Ted Nash), but his compact quartet on The Stars Look Very Different Today features two guitarists, with Steve Cardenas’s sweet tone balancing Seabrook’s harsh one; the former maintains a conventional jazz sound, while the latter injects elements from metal and noise rock (that is, when he’s not playing tenor banjo). Allison’s melodic sensibilities lead him toward the catchy concision of rock, whether he’s chasing a rural, ambling twang on “The Ballad of Joe Buck” (inspired by the character in Midnight Cowboy) or pushing a plangent, snaking guitar melody across an ascending chord pattern on the indie-pop-inflected “Neutron Star.” The music is sleek and efficient, using repeating rhythms to cradle and propel the guitars, yet Allison and company achieve the accessibility of rock while maintaining the shape-shifting sophistication of a jazz combo. —Peter Margasak


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