Foreign Investment | Music Feature | Chicago Reader

Foreign Investment 

The Chicago jazz scene gets a vote of confidence from Portugal's Clean Feed Records.

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10:30 PM Luis Lopes, Jeb Bishop, and Josh Abrams On last year's What Is When (Clean Feed), Portuguese guitarist Luis Lopes pushes his sound into overdrive—his tone is taut and saturated, almost psychedelic, even when it's not distorted—but as on his 2008 debut, he doles out notes in measured, thoughtful doses, whether his style is clean and lyrical or dirty and choppy. I've only heard Lopes leading two very different groups—on What Is When he's joined by American bassist Adam Lane and Israeli drummer Igal Foni—so I can't predict what he'll do in this trio with trombonist Jeb Bishop and bassist Josh Abrams.


Chicago Cultural Center, Claudia Cassidy Theater 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630

6:30 PM Memorize the Sky As the excellent trio Memorize the Sky, reedist Matt Bauder, bassist Zach Wallace, and percussionist Aaron Siegel emphasize ensemble interplay: despite their hovering, hypnotizing sound, there's way too much forward movement and shifting sonic detail on their 2008 album In Former Times (Clean Feed) for it to qualify as drone music. Sometimes the skittery sounds Siegel creates by running objects across the heads of his snare and bass drums—he lays the latter flat like a tabletop instead of using a standard kit setup—are so frenetic they feel almost static, hanging in the air alongside Bauder's beautifully striated long tones. At other times Siegel plays cymbals and other pieces of metal with a bow, creating keening, resonant shimmers, while Bauder carefully places a series of disconnected notes. The forthcoming Creeks (due on Broken Research late this summer) leans heavily on fluttering reeds and chirping analog synth, and the instruments are electronically processed so that they echo, loop, dilate, and accelerate; the two long pieces that result are the band's most intricate and entrancing yet. This is Memorize the Sky's first performance in more than a year.

7:30 PM MI3 Founded in Boston, this veteran trio—pianist Pandelis Karayorgis, bassist Nate McBride, and drummer Curt Newton—hasn't played too often since McBride moved to Chicago in late 2004. Their repertoire mixes material by the likes of Lennie Tristano, Andrew Hill, and Thelonious Monk with Karayorgis's own knotty tunes, which bear the influence of those original thinkers; no matter what the song, MI3 approach it with clarity of purpose, a deep rapport, and a fierce streak of unpredictable individuality. On Free Advice (Clean Feed, 2007) their alert interplay rolls along atop jagged rhythms that occasionally manage to swing, and Karayorgis's idea-packed but spacious improvisations bristle with geometric abstraction and melodic zigzags. Betwixt (Hatology, 2008) changed direction slightly, with Karayorgis switching to Fender Rhodes and the repertoire leaning more heavily on covers, this time by Monk, Sun Ra, Misha Mengelberg, Wayne Shorter, and others. I'm eager to hear what's next.

Heaven Gallery 1550 N. Milwaukee, second floor,, donation requested

9:30 PM RED Trio Pianist Rodrigo Pinheiro, bassist Hernani Faustino, and drummer Gabriel Ferrandini, aka Lisbon's RED Trio, forego tunes entirely to improvise freely, sometimes without any fixed pulse at all and never with anything more than an implied meter. Their recent self-titled debut for Clean Feed is a febrile mix of nubby textures, terse melodic utterances, and pinballing multilinear improvisation. Pinheiro frequently alters the tone of his piano by placing objects inside it or damping strings by hand, turning it into more of a percussion instrument, and his bandmates focus on atomized particles of music rather than slow-growing lines—their rigorously tactile sounds and gnarled phrases vanish as quickly as they emerge. This is the group's Chicago debut.

10:30 PM Jason Stein's Locksmith Isidore This trio led by local bass clarinetist Jason Stein—one of the few improvisers who sticks exclusively to that instrument—pushes against the boundary between composition and improvisation. The aim doesn't seem to be to erase the border, though, but rather to sneak across it: they improvise as through they're trying to sound like they're playing a tune, and they play a tune such that you could mistake it for an improvisation. Stein, Chicago bassist Jason Roebke, and New York drummer Mike Pride are better than ever on their forthcoming third album, Three Kinds of Happiness (Not Two), aiming for a more swinging jazz feel. No one's going to confuse Locksmith Isidore with a Benny Goodman trio, but compared to the squeaky, aggressive abstraction of their first two records, which were both for Clean Feed, the new one is warm, tender, and fluid. Though Pride is known as a wild extrovert, here his playing is gentle and buoyant; Roebke is his usual reliable, flexible self.   

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