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Gossip Wolf: Ensemble dal Niente cellist Chris Wild drops a solo record

Plus: Pugs Atomz rings in the New Year, and Chuck Wren celebrates 20 years of American Ska-thic

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Gossip Wolf readers might know cellist Chris Wild from Chicago contemporary-­classical corps Ensemble dal Niente. On Tue 1/28 he'll put out his first album of solo and chamber music, Abhanden (Navona), and on 1/5 at Constellation he plays an album-release concert with dal Niente soprano Amanda DeBoer Bartlett, violinist J. Austin Wulliman, and outsider-folk trio the Grant Wallace Band. The program, which includes work by Kaija Saariaho, Stefan Prins, and Wild's wife, composer Eliza Brown, promises to investigate the cello's "sonic and technical extremes." Dude, did you say extreme cello? Don't tease! The show also features an auction of Wild's oil paintings to benefit Ensemble dal Niente, and admission includes a copy of Abhanden.

Chicago rapper Pugs Atomz went on a tear in December: he dropped his Benetton Days mixtape, which kicks off with an awesome song with the awesome name "Martin Lawrence Fishburn," and the album Bama Pi (Tokyo Dawn). On Fri 1/3 he's participating in Sonic Healing Ministries' Jazz and Hip-Hop New Year at the U. of C.'s Logan Center for the Arts. Pugs will perform alongside soul singer Akenya Seymour, who appears on Chance the Rapper's #10Day mixtape; DJ and host of Vocalo's Reclaimed Soul, Ayana Contreras; and reedist, drummer, and Sonic Healing Ministries founder David Boykin. It's $10 and starts at 8 PM.

Years ago this wolf was crazy about ska—throw on the Skatalites or the Specials today and Gossip Wolf can still get into the groove. As the Reader's J.R. Jones wrote in 1998, the midwest was a huge incubator for ska's hardcore-paced third wave, and one of the biggest players in the 90s scene was Chicago's Chuck Wren, who launched his Jump Up label in 1993. Wren celebrates the 20th anniversary of Jump Up's first release, the 1994 compilation American Ska-thic, by DJing a Metro show on Fri 1/3 featuring Hot Stove Jimmy, Greenhouse, the Eclectics, Heavy Manners, Skapone, and the Exceptions.

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