When: Thu., May 21, 10 p.m. 2009
One positive side effect of the economic downturn is that people like percussionist GINO ROBAIR can devote more time to their art. Previously he’d been tied down by his day job as an editor at Electronic Musician magazine, which made it hard for him to play outside the Bay Area, but now that he’s been laid off he’s coming to Chicago for the first time in 19 years. Exceptionally versatile as an improviser and composer, Robair is just as persuasive devising complementary textures and out-of-the-box techniques with saxophonists like John Butcher and Anthony Braxton—he’s a virtuoso with scrapers, violin bows, and even E-Bows—as he is pounding out primal beats with Tom Waits or the avant-rock band Pink Mountain (not to be confused with Pink Mountaintops). On Blips and Ifs (Rastascan), a new recording with trumpeter Birgit Ulher, he plays nothing but circuit-bent devices and analog electronics—“voltage made audible,” as he puts it—and she largely dispenses with notes, but despite restricting themselves to the sounds of electricity, metal, and breath, they create a deep, rich tableau of layered sound. Tonight Robair will play with equally radical local trumpeter Jaime Branch, and tomorrow afternoon he’ll perform live on WNUR 89.3 FM. Robair also plays Heaven Gallery and hosts an improv workshop on Saturday. —Bill Meyer Saxophonist Espen Reinertsen and trumpeter Eivind Lonning, the two young musicians in STREIFENJUNKO, are unknown quantities in this country, but given how quickly they’ve established themselves in their native Norway it shouldn’t be long before they make inroads here. Both studied jazz at the prestigious Trondheim Music Conservatory, and it seems to be hardwired into them: on the 2007 disc Subaquatic Disco (AIM), where they’re joined by bassist Ole Morten Vaagan and drummer Erik Nylander in a quartet called the Espen Reinertsen Organic Jukebox, you can hear their sterling technique (tempered by impressive restraint) and firm grip on postbop fundamentals. They’re just as strong playing free improv, though, and on Streifenjunko’s recent debut, No Longer Burning (Sofa), they draw from an arsenal of extended techniques, from Reinertsen’s post-Mats Gustafsson mouthpiece pops to Lonning’s low drones and unpitched, spittle-flecked groans, spinning concise vignettes that flow from one gambit to the next with grace and logic. On “Under a Toxic Mist” they come down to earth for a bit, putting aside pure abstraction to flutter through a loosely composed melody, but then they leap into astringent improvisations on that wide-open theme. —Peter Margasak Robair and Branch headline and Streifenjunko opens.
Price: $10 suggested donation