Italian reedist Daniele D'Agaro has always gotten around: he's dug up unpublished Don Byas tunes for a mainstream album with bop great Benny Bailey; explored the common ground between improvisation, electronics, and African folklore with his trio Lingua Franca; and teamed with church organist Mauro Costantini to perform Duke Ellington's sacred works. But he's never sounded as mobile on a single recording as he does on his newest, last year's Strandjutters (Hatology). Supported by the excellent Dutch rhythm section of bassist Ernst Glerum and drummer Han Bennink, he effortlessly crosses and recrosses the threshold between the shelter of swing and bebop and the wide-open spaces of free improv. This constant movement never feels antsy--every trip makes perfect sense. The album combines roomy new compositions with relatively straight readings of such beautiful songs as "The Girl in My Dreams Tries to Look Like You" (recorded in 1940 by the Blanton-Webster lineup of Ellington's band) and Johnny Dyani's lyrical "Wish You Sunshine." D'Agaro should deliver the same mix of standards and originals when he reunites with Chicagoans Jeb Bishop (trombone), Kent Kessler (bass), and Robert Barry (drums), a group that's worked well with him on previous visits. Wednesday, February 18, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. Thursday, February 19, 9:30 PM, Velvet Lounge, 21281/2 S. Indiana; 312-791-9050.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Jackson.