That handle won't win any prizes for creativity, but to those familiar with the individuals named, it tells the story--and whets the appetite. Guitarist Grismore (Steve) and saxophonist Scea (Paul) colead their own quintet, which has released one quite good album--imaginatively textured and full of surprises--and plans another. They also appeared last summer at the Bop Shop in one of the year's live-performance highlights. Grismore hails from Iowa City; Scea, who lives in West Virginia, became acquainted with percussionist Damon Short and bass trumpeter Ryan Shultz of Chicago when they all played on Short's 1994 album All of the Above (Southport). That explains how these four hooked up with one another--for the why, you can start by examining their compatibly investigative approaches to music. To varying degrees each player operates subcutaneously, sliding in beneath the surface tissue of the music to find original grist for his improvisations. What's more each has proved himself a bright and noteworthy composer, either on his own albums or, in the case of Shultz, as a member of the Jeff Stitely Quartet. Grismore and Scea travel all over the map in their material, in every case welding craft to mood; Shultz has a keen melodic sense, his music bolstered by a sagacious simplicity; and Short provides taut and twisting (yet warmly arranged) tunes that usually display a rhythmic crackle one might expect from a crackerjack drummer. Depending on the rhythmic demands of the moment, Short can either percolate or pulverize the beat, a la New Orleans and Chicago (both of which Short has called home). The rhythmic matchup between Short and guitarist Grismore--along with the "fifth Beatle" of this ensemble, bassist Noel Kupersmith--is one of a half-dozen intrigues promised in this first collaboration by the artists involved. Expect energy, hope for synergy. Friday, 11 PM, Bop Shop, 1807 W. Division; 235-3232. NEIL TESSER
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Bill Klewitz.