Escape Lane, Max Nagl & Jim Baker, Dans les Arbres, Juozas Kuraitis Quartet | Chicago Cultural Center | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Escape Lane, Max Nagl & Jim Baker, Dans les Arbres, Juozas Kuraitis Quartet Free All Ages Soundboard Recommended Image

When: Thu., Nov. 6, 6:30 p.m. 2014

This patient Norwegian-French quartet takes time and care to create its fully improvised ensemble sound, turning its arsenal of instruments into an undifferentiated collection of sound generators. The second Dans les Arbres album, 2012’s Canopée (ECM), has occasional passages where you can tell who’s doing what—Christian Wallumrød plinking on a damped piano key, for instance, or Xavier Charles sputtering in the upper register of his clarinet—but by and large the group focuses on producing a rippling, continuous fabric of mesmerizing resonance, unexpected timbres, and discontinuous rhythms in which few if any instruments are discernible as themselves. Percussionist Ingar Zach often uses a concert bass drum as a reverberant platform for a collection of small objects and devices that make crinkly, thuddy, or frictive sounds; Ivar Grydeland weaves his electric guitar and banjo into Wallumrød’s piano to generate slippery constellations of brittle but soothing overtones (on “La Buée” they recall traditional Japanese string instruments). The ten vignettes on Canopée hover and billow rather than drive forward, but stasis has rarely felt so elegant. Recently Dans les Arbres has been using more electronics, so this rare Chicago performance could be much louder and more rhythmically oriented than the group’s previous show here four years ago. —Peter Margasak