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Avant-garde Danish saxophonist Laura Toxvaerd makes her Chicago debut behind three strong new albums

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Saxophonist and composer Laura Toxvaerd has been on the Danish jazz scene since the turn of the century, but she isn’t nearly as well-known as she deserves to be. Last year Toxvaerd released three equally powerful albums with three different combos—including Pladeshop, a trio recording featuring dazzling pianist Simon Toldam and veteran drummer Marilyn Mazur. Each effort has its own sound, but Toxvaerd’s grainy, biting tone is constant across the three records, whether she’s delivering tender balladry or blowing jagged phrases that knife across the sound field. An improviser’s heart powers her work, but she’s embraced her own form of graphic scoring—marked by variable uses of color, shape, written instruction, and conventional notation, and collected in the lovely book Compositions: 18 Graphic Scores. The book is an incitement to creativity for Toxvaerd and her collaborators; by including initial sketches that show how pieces developed over time, she gives her players more to work with. In her first visit to Chicago, she leads a young trio with Norwegian drummer Ole Mofjell and Copenhagen keyboardist Jeppe Zeeberg—the latter performed on last year’s Compositions Part 2 as part of the trio Dødens Garderobe, which adapted to Toxvaerd’s eclectic scores with grace and sensitivity.

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