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Weekend happenings that didn’t find their way into this week’s Treatment:
James Falzone’s Allos Musica, Lamentations @ Chicago Cultural Center : Falzone is one of the city’s most focused and inquisitive clarinetists, and his compositions favor a rigor and precision that’s rare. He uses the Allos Musica name as an umbrella for several distinct projects, including the fine sextet that performed on the impressive The Sign and the Thing Signified earlier this year. This weekend he revisits the trio setting he first utilized last year during a commissioned series at Gallery 37. Working with the great Palestinian oudist and composer Issa Boulos, the group—rounded out by drummer Tim Mulvenna, who plays mostly frame drums in this context—explored an intersection of jazz improvisation and Arabic maqam. A live recording from last October displays an impressive fluidity, with Boulos and Falzone finding an agreeable comfort zone; the loose arrangements give the participants plenty of space, but structurally the pieces don’t cling too tightly to the often rigid demands of maqam. The 3 PM concert at Preston Bradley Hall features Ronnie Malley of Mucca Pazza and Lamajamal replacing Boulos. The group will also perform on Monday night at Koten Chapel on the campus of North Central College in Naperville, where Falzone teaches.
Greg Osby Four, Friday and Saturday at the Green Mill: One of the most compelling saxophonists of the last two decades, Osby recently lost his long-time deal with Blue Note Records, which staunchly supported his bold conceptual explorations. It’s a shame, of course, but hardly a surprise these days, where major labels have all but banished jazz. As usual, Osby leads an interesting band featuring bassist Matthew Brewer, who’s been with him the last couple of times, drummer Tommy Crane, and pianist Frank LoCrasto. Last year LoCrasto released an impressive debut album, When You’re There (MaxJazz); although he plays with a quartet featuring Crane, reedist Chris Cheek, and guitarist Mike Moreno, most of the pieces—all originals—have elaborate arrangements and use a restrained mini-orchestra that gives the tunes a pop-like concision that you might expect from an LA pop factory. The quartet’s frontline activity is fairly subdued but still high-level, so it’s nice that the strings and horns (in this case, bassoon, clarinet, English horn, flute) don’t overwhelm it, instead shading in contours and underlining elegant countermelodies. Naturally, these intricate constructions make me wonder how LoCrasto will sound in the context of Osby’s band.
International Contemporary Ensemble @ various venues: This new music ensemble started in Chicago and now enjoys a split residency with New York. As this recent piece in the New York Times suggests, the group has quickly become an important presenter of contemporary classical music, encouraging young composers through commissions. They also ditch the rarefied air of classical music that bums out and alienates so many young people. Expediency and comfort guide their venue choices as much as the sound of the room. This weekend kicks off ICE’s fifth annual festival, with concerts all over the city—including the Velvet Lounge, Elastic, and Katerina’s—and it’s hard to imagine the opportunity to hear so much contemporary work in such a concentrated burst any other time of the year. The complete schedule is here.
Red Krayola and Sir Richard Bishop @ Whole Foods: Well, not in the flesh, but on Saturday afternoon at 2 PM, the Whole Foods stores in Lakeview (3300 N. Ashland), Lincoln Park (1000 W. North), and South Loop (1101 S. Canal) will preview their forthcoming albums on Drag City, Sighs Trapped by Liarsand Polytheistic Fragments. I suppose I'd rather hear Mayo Thompson wailing as I shop than a lot of other things, but this might be pushing lifestyle marketing too far.