JERRY GRANELLI & UFB
Drummer Jerry Granelli made two of the most richly intriguing jazz albums of the 1990s, Coming Through Slaughter (Evidence) and Another Place (Verabra); now he's made one of the most impressive fusion albums of the last decade and a half. And make no mistake: Broken Circle (Intuition) is definitely fusion, recalling a time when that term actually meant something--before the idiom's electrifying energy was sapped by a niggling array of pasteurized genre-hoppers. Granelli has modeled his band, UFB, on the classic rock quartet, with two guitars in front of electric bass and his own deep-focus drum work; the group expertly straddles the line between jazz and instrumental rock, and its slow blues numbers have an authentic bite. More important, this music has a voice and a power separate from both its parents'. For instance, the band's reworking of Charles Mingus's "Boogie Stop Shuffle," with its delightfully sinister chords and Texas chainsaw beat, sounds like Mingus meets ZZ Top. The second half of Broken Circle, a six-part suite entitled "Song of a Good Name," takes inspiration from Granelli's deep and abiding interest in Native American culture--the CD booklet contains quotations from Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, among others--but Granelli has avoided the obvious tactic of mimicking Native American music. Instead, he distills a variety of Amerind sources, as well as cowboy music and the sounds of nature, and ends up with a reconstituted music of the prairie--music that, while wordless, powerfully confronts such themes as domestic imperialism and cultural loss. When they appeared here last year, UFB left listeners shaking their heads over both the strength of Granelli's compositional concept and the commanding presence of the two German-born guitarists, Kai Brückner and Christian Kögel. Granelli himself has a pretty high opinion of the music made by this group: the band's name stands for "Un-Fucking-Believable." Saturday, 8 PM, Bop Shop, 1807 W. Division; 773-235-3232. NEIL TESSER
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo of Jerry Granelli & UFB by Sibila Savage.