Trio M Recommended Soundboard

When: Sat., Feb. 2, 8 p.m. 2013

The members of this superb collective—pianist Myra Melford, bassist Mark Dresser, and drummer Matt Wilson—don’t write music together or even live in the same state, but when they convene they find common ground on every one of a wide variety of tunes, working both inside and outside their comfort zones. Unfortunately, they don’t manage to do it too often: the trio formed about six years ago, but last year’s The Guest House (Yellowbird/Enja) is only its second recording, and tonight’s show is only its second in Chicago (Trio M debuted here at the Umbrella Music Festival in 2006). The band’s infrequent activity doesn’t constrain its members’ rapport, though—brisk postbop, rhapsodic blues, and sanguine flourishes of free jazz intermingle happily and naturally in their music. All three players are rooted in the fundamentals of jazz improvisation but subvert them regularly: Wilson uses his fierce swing to jack up the intensity, or to jam a stick into the spokes with a sudden detour; Dresser knots his fat, burnished lines into frenetic energy-music jags; and Melford spins elegant blues phrases into glassy tone clusters. They can segue from one to the other with disarming ease and precision, and cumulatively they cover a huge range of stylistic ground, both in their improvising and in the tunes that all three write: Wilson’s “Don Knotts” has a loosey-goosey momentum, Dresser’s “Kind of Nine” is a soulful, contemplative ballad, and Melford’s “The Promised Land” is both fluidly funky and jaggedly lurching. —Peter Margasak

Price: $12

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