When: Thu., Nov. 17, 10 p.m. 2011
Tenor saxophonist Travis Laplante, best known as a member of mercilessly aggressive jazz-noise quartet Little Women, wrote the music on his beautifully stark solo album Heart Protector (Skirl) while living in isolation and struggling with the effects of severe vertigo. The title is his term for the pericardial sac, a "protector" he had to break through to find relief—Western medicine wasn't helping, so he had to open himself up to possibilities like acupuncture. He bookends the album with gorgeously serene pieces: the title track builds a simple, fragile melody from richly striated long tones, and the closer, a spacious, tender ballad called "The Tear Dam," sounds like a hymn. In between those two, Laplante brings pinpoint precision to ferocious extended technique—circular breathing, fiery overblowing, and starburst harmonics—on three pieces that range from brutal catharsis to piercing austerity. He's mapped these pieces out rigorously, so that it's not clear how little improvisation is happening (you might expect more, given his history with jazz-oriented groups), but it's hard to care about details like that when confronted with the riveting mix of visceral charge and melodic warmth on Heart Protector. —Peter Margasak The Jason Stein Trio headlines.