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There’s usually no deader week on the local concert calendar than this one, but for fans of improvised music there are a couple of Christmas presents: On Wednesday reedist Ken Vandermark and drummer Tim Daisy meet up at the Hideout for an evening of spontaneous music-making that will surely be akin to the fine 2006 Empty Bottle gig captured on August Music (a limited CD-R release). The two work together in several contexts these days—from the Vandermark 5 to the Frame Quartet to Bridge 61—so they have a strong, natural rapport, whether they're shaping high-octane, heavily rhythmic blasts or focusing on slow-moving textural excursions.
Then on Friday former scene mainstay/gadfly Weasel Walter will play duets with trombonist Jeb Bishop at Heaven. Back in the 90s they worked together in an early line-up of Weasel's Flying Luttenbachers, the long-running, frequently morphing project that he just recently disbanded. Since moving to the Bay Area in 2003 Weasel has maintained a hectic pace, playing with the Luttenbachers, XBXRX, and Burmese, among other groups, but the biggest shift has been his return to free jazz and improvised music, which will be the context for this gig. He’s just released three new albums on his own ugExplode label, including what may be the final Luttenbachers opus, Incarceration by Abstraction, on which he played everything himself. More germane to this gig is the scorching Firestorm, recorded live in New York and Philadelphia this past February. Some heavy hitters join the fray—including veteran Sun Ra reedist Marshall Allen, bassist Lisle Ellis, drummer Marc Edwards, and saxophonist Marco Eneidi—but ultimately this album is about the massed sound the whole group delivers, a roaring maelstrom of pure energy music. Lichens, a trio date with bassist and frequent collaborator Damon Smith and Italian reedist Gianni Gebbia, is more restrained and, dare I say it, reminiscent of the jazz tradition—swinging rhythms, walking bass lines, and postbop horn licks. It’s nice to get the chance to hear Weasel play in such a spacious, limber context.
Paul Motian Trio 2000 + 2, Live at the Village Vanguard (Winter & Winter)
Ravish Momin’s Trio Tarana, Miren (A Longing) (Clean Feed)
Oren Ambarchi, In the Pendulum’s Embrace (Southern Lord)
Maria Rita, Samba Meu (Warner Music Latina)
Orion Rigel Dommisse, What I Want From You is Sweet (Language of Stone)