No nation outside the U.S. has a longer jazz history than France, home to Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, Europe's first bona fide jazzmen. It's been a continuing source of major artists ever since then, from Jean-Luc Ponty in the 60s to Michel Petrucciani in the 80s to Jean-Michel Pilc in this decade. You can include bass clarinetist Denis Colin in that group, though unlike his predecessors he's made a career out of skewing away from France's jazz tradition. Instead, Colin has looked to first principles for inspiration, starting in the Fertile Crescent: his trio features cellist Didier Petit and, instead of a typical drummer, Pablo Cueco on the zarb, a Persian drum similar in shape and sound to the dumbek. On their excellent 2000 disc, Etude de Terrain (Nato), they came up with music that was both moody and propulsive, with velvety textures punctured by explosive sparks from Colin's horn; it sounded like what might've happened if the band Oregon came together in Tehran. Colin's received far more attention for his follow-up, this year's Something in Common (Emarcy), where he explores America's black music diaspora. Joined by a number of Minneapolis musicians, including Prince touring guitarist Mike Scott, gospel singer Gwen Matthews, and hip-hop group the Dirty Bandits, the trio performs songs by Sonny Rollins, Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, Wyclef Jean, and others, splicing America's musical DNA with Colin's own, adding the unique perspective of an impassioned outsider. The trio also performs on Sunday, October 30, at 10 PM at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, on a bill with Charlotte Hug (see Saturday); call 773-935-2118.
Wed 10/26, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8.