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Bosco & Jorge, Shalabi Effect

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BOSCO & JORGE, SHALABI EFFECT

Bosco & Jorge, the duo of Bill Lowman and Brad Gallagher, supposedly met when they were 12 at a concert by guitarist Leo Kottke. In the ten years since, they've been developing their own take on Kottke's fingerpicking style, and on Bosco & Jorge, their recent debut for the local Explain: label, they show off what they've learned. Although Lowman adds some bass and piano to the mix and Gallagher tosses in a little banjo, their meticulously intertwining acoustic guitars are the main attraction. Thanks to several guests from the local free-jazz scene--including cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, flutist Niki Mitchell, and vocalist Glenda Baker, who sounds like a cross between Patty Waters and Starsailor-era Tim Buckley on "Lil Smokie"--the album benefits from a stylistic expansiveness that recalls the cross-pollinated experiments of Kottke's mentor John Fahey. But like Kottke, who collaborated with Kim Fowley and covered the Byrds on his major label debut, Bosco & Jorge respect the sweet succinctness of pop. That guest appearances alter the complexion of the music so much suggests that the duo haven't quite nailed down their own identity, but their search makes for enjoyable listening. The group has added drummer Steve Hess to its permanent lineup, and for this performance lap steel player John Poston (Country Melvins) and guitarist John Ridenour (Aluminum Group) will sit in on several tunes. A band that could probably use a few extra hands onstage is the Shalabi Effect, a quartet from Montreal that used about 40 instruments to create its 131-minute, two-disc self-titled debut on Alien8 Recordings. Their sprawling blend of ambient electronics and Middle Eastern psychedelia is every bit as excessive as you'd think--I've yet to make it through both CDs in one sitting--but the music is surprisingly (and refreshingly) precise. Bandleader Sam Shalabi is a better than adequate oud player, and Will Eizlini joins him on tabla for some faux-ethnic trance-outs, but more often than not heavily treated electric guitars dominate the mercurial but soothing swirl. Monday, December 11, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Amy MacWilliamson.

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