by Alex Parker
Check out a jazz band in Uptown, a mind-bending mystery in Old Town, and an exploration of war in Edgewater.
Show: Ben Allison Band “Bassist, composer, and bandleader Ben Allison has recorded nine albums of original music, and with each one he finds a new focus,” writes Peter Margasak. “His tenth album, Action-Refraction, is the first devoted mostly to music he didn't write himself. There's a knotty, prog-rock feel to his band's version of Thelonious Monk's ‘Jackie-ing,’ where Michael Blake's bass clarinet slaloms through a sideways groove, and their take on the meditative Donny Hathaway ballad ‘Some Day We'll All Be Free’ slowly intensifies thanks to old-school synth lines from Jason Lindner and roiling, lacerating feedback from guest guitarist Brandon Seabrook.”
9 p.m. Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552, www.greenmilljazz.com, $12
Dinner: Sun Wah Bar-B-Que An extensive menu is supplemented by a seemingly permanent group of specials such as lotus root with house-cured bacon and lamb stew casserole. And certain innovations—like the dramatic Peking duck dinner that for $32 feeds three or four—seem destined to join the pantheon of old favorites like panfried noodles and delicate, gingery steamed Dover sole. Sun Wah’s ultimate appeal has always been in its excellent value—even a $5.75 small order of Singapore noodles is lunch and dinner—and despite a slight increase in prices across the board, it boasts a consistency and variety that never fail to inspire overordering.
5041 N. Broadway, 773-769-1254, sunwahbbq.com
Show: Of Gods and Men “No one knows for sure what happened to the seven French monks who were kidnapped during the Algerian civil war and found dead in May 1996,” writes J.R. Jones. “But Xavier Beauvois, who directed and cowrote this moving spiritual drama (2010), doesn't bother himself with that mystery; he's more concerned with the faith and devotion of the victims, who refused to desert the monastery of Tibhirine despite the bloody terror unfolding all around them. None of the men wants to be a martyr, but their love for the villagers in their care, and for each other, trumps the steadily growing danger from the bloodthirsty mujahideen who patrol the country roads and zero in on the monastery as a strategic target. Alternately harrowing and humbling, this is a story of ordinary men whose compassion is tested in the cruelest, most profound fashion.” With Lambert Wilson and Michael Lonsdale. In French and Arabic with subtitles.
7:30 PM, 10:15 PM, Pipers Alley, 230 W. North, 312-642-6275
Dinner: Burger Bar At Burger Bar, precisely cooked, loosely formed, unseasoned half-pound patties can be piled with an unlimited combination of 13 toppings for an attractive $9 (or $10 with the $1 upcharge for cheese, bacon, or fried egg). Those who prefer to abdicate creative control must confront a selection of Kuma's-style exercises in superfluity, including a barbecue pork burger topped with bacon, ham, white cheddar, and apple-cabbage slaw and the Burgh, a burger with fries on top named for the great city of Pittsburgh, where the natives are known to put fries on their oatmeal.
1578 N. Clybourn, 312-255-0055, burgerbarchicago.com
Show: Black Watch “A tour de force about a tour of duty. In 2004, during the Iraq war, the UK's fabled Scottish regiment, the Black Watch, was deployed to a forward operating base between Fallujah and Karbala,” writes Tony Adler. “It was a controversial move because the Scotsmen were being pulled away from the rest of the British contingent to support American marines. It was a dangerous one because that area, which became known as the Triangle of Death, was the locus of a ferocious resistance. Based on interviews with veterans but miles beyond docudrama, Gregory Burke's play is a foul, painful, exquisite look at what the men of the regiment experienced. … A great deal of what Black Watch has to say is familiar from other grunt-level accounts of imperial adventures like the one in Iraq. What's stunning is that so much of it is said, eloquently, through music and movement.”
8 PM, Broadway Armory, 5917 N. Broadway, 312-742-7502, $38-$45
Dinner: Indie Café Indie Cafe serves Thai and Japanese food way above average in terms of quality, presentation, and value. The Andaman Salad, for instance, a substantial melange of steamed shrimp, succulent scallops, and calamari tossed with red onion, shredded carrots, and a sauce made with lemongrass, lime, and hot peppers, perfectly balances sweet, salty, spicy, and crunchy. It's a bargain at $8. … Everything is arranged beautifully: maki slices stand in a circle next to tiny mountains of ginger and wasabi and swirls of spicy mayo dotted with black sesame seeds; curries have sprigs of greens jutting out at acute angles and frilly herb garnishes. Arun Sampanthavivat might want to take note of this place, as the food here comes closer to his exquisite cuisine than anything else in town, and at a fraction of his prices. BYOB
5951 N. Broadway, 773-561-5577