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Davey Williams & Torsten Muller

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DAVEY WILLIAMS & TORSTEN MULLER

While there are notable exceptions--like Dutch percussionist Han Bennink and British pianist Steve Beresford--it's a rare free improviser who's known for his fabulous sense of humor. But electric guitarist Davey Williams, from Birmingham, Alabama, could probably get by on his comic abilities alone. His most recent work is a book called Which Came First: The Fried Chicken or the Fried Egg? (Birdfeeder Editions), a series of absurdist illustrations of fried eggs in human situations explained by captions like "Fried eggs keep their whites in shape by doing sit-ups." In the musical realm, where he's best known as the maniacal note bender from the avant blob Curlew, he can elicit laughs not just from the audience but from his guitar--which he can also cause to burp, scream, fart, stutter, cry, moan, and wail, using motorized children's toys, kitchen utensils, and other implements. But despite his theatrical tendencies, Williams is a superb listener who can interact at the highest level, and he uses his broad technical palette to realize his ideas. Some of his most impassioned work has been done with longtime partner LaDonna Smith, a viola and violin maestro who matches his spontaneous wit blow for blow both in recordings on their own Trans Museq label and in their rarely produced but essential magazine, the Improvisor. But for his Chicago performance, he'll meet an old comrade, German bassist Torsten Müller, for the first time in a decade. In 1981 Müller, Williams, Smith, and trombonist Günter Christmann recorded the classic White Earth Streak, a stunning wordless conversation--by turns splintery, spindly, splattery, and sploogy--that remains a veritable clinic on how subtle interaction need not be dry or predictable. Like Williams, Müller can transcend the traditional vocabulary of his instrument; don't be surprised if you can't tell who's doing what. Wednesday, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. PETER MARGASAK

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