One of the earliest famous partnerships in jazz was that of violinist Joe Venuti and guitarist Eddie Lang in the 20s, so it's hardly a new idea to build a jazz group around guitar and violin. It still seems folly, in this age of hard horns and escalating electronics, to forge an essentially acoustic unit with only strings attached. Yet the String Trio consistently surprises with the sheer power and variety of its presentation. (If you can imagine Venuti and Lang performing together after steeping themselves in works by Sartre, Mingus, Ferlinghetti, and Jackson Pollock, then you'll get some idea of the STNY's approach.) Credit founders John Lindstrom, a wunderkind bassist and composer, and guitarist James Emery, one of the all-time great accompanists; their individual concepts epitomize the group goal of synergy. The third founder, violinist Billy Bang, has given way to Charles Burnham (who previously recorded with James Blood Ulmer). The change will certainly prove significant, perhaps even salutary: while Bang developed into an accomplished player during his tenure with the trio, Burnham arrived on the scene with his technique. In other words, his chops are fine; we'll learn this weekend whether he matches Bang's fire and fury. Tonight, 8 PM, Southend Musicworks, third floor, 341 W. Superior; 283-0531.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Linda Harris.