One of the longest-running freely improvising ensembles on earth plays this (and nearly every) Monday in Roscoe Village | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

One of the longest-running freely improvising ensembles on earth plays this (and nearly every) Monday in Roscoe Village 

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click to enlarge Extraordinary Popular Delusions

Extraordinary Popular Delusions

John Garrison

For improvisers, familiarity is a double-edged sword; if musicians get too comfortable with each other, inspiration can turn into habit. But there’s nothing quite so thrilling as the near-telepathic rapport of a group whose players know each other’s strengths and try to push each other to greater heights. The members of Extraordinary Popular Delusions have had plenty of time to get to know one another. The quartet, which consists of Jim Baker (electric piano, synthesizer, viola), Mars Williams (reeds, percussion, zither, toys), Brian Sandstrom (double bass, electric guitar, trumpet), and Steve Hunt (drums, percussion, waterphone) have sustained a weekly gig at either Hotti Biscotti or the second floor of the Beat Kitchen since 2005, and everyone except Baker played together in the NRG Ensemble in 1980s and 1990s. Each of these musicians has experience in R&B, and jazz fit for both steakhouses and art houses—but their commitment to EPD gives them a consistent space to improvise freely, and their collective sense of purpose keeps them on their toes. In Extraordinary Popular Delusions, the music shifts organically between high-energy free jazz, coarse-grained noise, and high-voltage atmospheric explorations, which can be undertaken with utter seriousness, impish humor, or both at once. Since every member of the group also has outside projects, substitute musicians often stop by to fill in or further shake things up, but all four core members will be on hand this evening.   v

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