The Reader's Guide to the World Music Festival Chicago 2010: Wednesday, September 29 

Noon | Claudia Cassidy Theater

Oreka TX The core sound of this Spanish Basque group comes from an unwieldy traditional percussion instrument called the txalaparta. Built from planks of wood laid across trestles and struck end-on with stout wooden rods, it has a sound a bit sharper and drier than a marimba's and often idiosyncratic tuning similar to that of a balafon; it's customarily played by two people, who between them can produce quite a galloping stampede of notes. As a Basque instrument, the txalaparta faced extinction when Franco's nationalist regime suppressed ethnic identity in Spain, but in the decades since it's been revived by folklorists. Harkaitz Martinez and Igor Otxoa began playing the instrument together in 1997, and the important Basque musician Kepa Junkera brought them into his band the same year; they released their first record as Oreka TX in 2001. For the group's latest album, 2008's Nömadak TX (World Village), they traveled the world (a trip that also produced a documentary film of the same name) to play with a wide range of collaborators—including Norwegian Sami musicians, Mongolian throat singers, Indian folk musicians, a Berber drumming group, and ice artist and percussionist Terje Isungset, who helped them build a txalaparta from blocks of ice. The band's namesake instrument remains at center stage throughout, but the music's character is unfortunately diluted by wishy-washy one-worldism. With any luck the touring lineup will have a stylistic focus narrow enough to frame the txalaparta properly. —PM

Talvin Singh

Pedro Moraes

7 PM | Instituto Cervantes | $15, $10 members

Oreka TX See above.

7 PM | Claudia Cassidy Theater

Tambuco

7:30 PM | Schubas | $12, $10 in advance, 21+

Pedro Moraes

DJ Tudo

8 PM | Mayne Stage | $15, 21+

Talvin Singh

8:30 PM | Old Town School of Folk Music | $5 suggested donation

Deolinda See Tuesday, September 28.

9 PM | Martyrs' | $12, 21+

Salil Bhatt & Doug Cox's Slide to Freedom

Harper with Billy Branch

9:30 PM | Hideout | $10, 21+

Jason Kao Hwang's Burning Bridge Violinist and composer Jason Kao Hwang has long been influenced by the sound of Chinese languages. "My parents spoke Chinese to each other, for casual conversations, and often about things they didn't want us kids to understand," he wrote in an e-mail. "I would listen to them, striving to glean any understanding I could from the shape, cadence, timbre and emotional vibrations of their musical language. I imagine this listening has contributed to my musical voice. I imagine these childhood experiences are my roots to Chinese culture. This has nothing to do with scholarship, and everything to do with the emotional fabric of my personal history." He's frequently used jazz-related music to explore his heritage, working with traditional instruments and ideas in his Far East Side Band and employing combinations of Western instruments to evoke Asian timbres in his long-running quartet Edge. With his new five-part suite, Burning Bridge, he ties these projects together, combining Western and Eastern instruments and traditions. The octet he's assembled to play it features superb trumpeter Taylor Ho Bynum, bassist Ken Filiano, and percussionist Andrew Drury—all his bandmates in Edge—plus two jazz veterans, Dick Griffin on trombone and Joe Daley on tuba, and two acclaimed traditional Chinese musicians, Sun Li on pipa and Wang Guowei on erhu. —PM

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