New York reedist Oscar Noriega makes a rare visit to Chicago | Bleader

New York reedist Oscar Noriega makes a rare visit to Chicago

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Since improvisation is one of the defining elements of jazz, one of the greatest byproducts of the music's art is the way its practitioners can come together on the fly and make great things happen. Most music requires scheming and rehearsing before things will sound OK, especially when a group of players are getting together for the first time, but jazz skirts those needs—though if a group is playing new compositions, coming up with arrangements and rehearsing certainly helps. Recently the superb guitarist Jeff Parker was contacted by the likewise gifted New York reedist Oscar Noriega about setting up an ad hoc concert date here. Noriega was traveling with his wife on a cross-country road trip and wanted to make a stop in Chicago on the way back home.

So Sunday night at 10 PM the Hungry Brain will host Noriega in performance with a quartet featuring Parker, bassist Jason Roebke, and drummer Tim Daisy. Parker tells me they'll probably play a few tunes—their own or some standards—but since they won't have time to rehearse, naturally much of the music will be created from scratch. Knowing the skill, imagination, and resourcefulness of these players, the results will be gripping. Noriega has only made one album under his own name during a two-decade career—a terrific 2000 recording called Luciano's Dream (OmniTone) with trumpeter Cuong Vu, guitarist Brad Shepik, and drummer Tom Rainey—but he's been an invaluable sideman with groups like Either/Orchestra, the Clarinets, Slavic Soul Party!, and projects fronted by Satoko Fujii and Gerry Hemingway, among others. Lately he's been a crucial member in a pair of excellent horn-fronted quartets, including Tim Berne's Snakeoil project. But Chicagoans probably know him best for his membership in Chris Speed's Endangered Blood, who gave a memorable performance at the Hungry Brain in December 2010.

On July 29 Endangered Blood will release its second album, Work Your Magic (Skirl). I was delighted when a copy of the recording turned up in my mail yesterday, and though I've had time to listen to it only twice, I can tell that it's another gem (as was the group's eponymous 2011 debut). Six of the eight pieces were composed by Speed, and they're marked by his characteristic angularity, restrained soulfulness, and tender lyricism, even as drummer Jim Black seems intent on unraveling any trace of serenity (the group is rounded out by the agile bassist Trevor Dunn). Below you can check out "Nice Try," a Noriega composition dedicated to the brilliant drummer Paul Motian—the composer takes the alto solo. Speed and Noriega possess a winning rapport, masterfully braiding their lines (the former on tenor and clarinet, the latter on alto and bass clarinet) on themes where they harmonize brilliantly, interact in sweet-sour jags, or expertly anticipate one another's moves with rare intuition. I can't wait for the band to come back to Chicago, but I'm also not going to waste this rare opportunity to hear Noriega on his own.

Today's playlist:

Houari Benchenet, Ya Raikoum (Culture Press)
Tord Gustavsen Quartet, The Well (ECM)
Kate Denny, Closer to Home (Lapwing)
Alexander von Schlippenbach, Piano Solo '77 (FMP)
Friedrich Cerha, Und du . . ., Verzeichnis, Für K (Kairos)

Peter Margasak writes about jazz every Friday.

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