JEFF STITELY QUARTET
Drummer Jeff Stitely's working band of a few years back sailed along on the cinematic sweep of John McLean's guitar, the analytical focus of Ryan Shultz's bass trumpet, the lithe undercurrent of Larry Kohut's bass, and Stitely's own percussive cascades. That band has essentially disappeared, though each of its members gets plenty of exposure in other settings around town. The JSQ had a terrific sound, thanks to its unique instrumentation; a strong repertoire, based largely on tunes by Shultz and McLean; and a bright future, thanks to the complementary improvisational styles of its members. Best of all, the JSQ took a gimmickless approach to the music, ignoring trends but still arriving at something wholly of the moment. Lack of regular work eroded this promising foundation--the JSQ hasn't played a gig in well over a year--but this all-but-moribund band has found new life in the contemporaneous release of two new albums. Ennead (Premonition) was recorded about 18 months ago and finds the quartet playing the compositions of Chicago keyboardist Dennis Luxion, which sound as if they slipped in from an analogous but slightly alien universe. All Things Equal, recorded in the spring of 1994, chronicles a two-night engagement at the Jazz Buffet and provided the long-awaited sequel to the quartet's 1993 debut; it also shows that Stitely and his men had begun to move deeper into their music, abandoning politeness without sacrificing their trademark cool precision. The release of this album, on the also all-but-moribund Lake Shore Jazz label, provides the impetus for this reunion performance and CD-release party. (Stitely will also perform with Jim Ryan, Bobby Lewis, Pat Mallinger, and Thomas Kini on Wednesday at Andy's.) Friday, 6:30 PM, Bop Shop, 1807 W. Division; 235-3232.