Algernon, Patience Gloria, Super Desserts Critic's Choice Recommended Soundboard

When: Thu., Jan. 28, 9 p.m. 2010

Over the past few years Dave Miller has emerged as one of the most flexible and ubiquitous guitarists in Chicago, not only with his own instrumental five-piece Algernon but also in adventurous jazz bands like Zing!, Blink., and Ted Sirota's Rebel Souls. He's comfortable with postbop, free jazz, and swing—he recently played Charlie Christian to James Falzone's Benny Goodman as a guest in Klang—as well as with the species of hard-to-define through-composed music unfortunately known as "post-rock." I don't think it's a coincidence that Miller has a lot in common with another of the city's most durable and original players, Jeff Parker, or that Algernon's brand-new third album, Ghost Surveillance (Cuneiform), explores some of the same turf as Parker's best-known group, Tortoise: I can hear similarities in the graceful interactions between Katie Wiegman's driving vibraphone and the band's lean, muscular guitars (the second played by new member Toby Summerfield), as well as in the occasional passages of post-Reich minimalism and soundtrack ambience. But while Tortoise often get called prog, Algernon actually earn the label—bassist Tom Perona and drummer Cory Healey play harder and busier than Tortoise's rhythm section, and Miller's compositions pack in more detail, emphasizing weird time signatures and athletic virtuosity. Thankfully this flashiness isn't just empty showing off; nobody solos, and the rigorous arrangements favor measured calm over breathless agitation. I doubt anybody will stop comparing Algernon to Tortoise anytime soon, but Ghost Surveillance is the sound of a young band finding its own impressive voice. —Peter Margasak

Price: $8

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