Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

JIM BAKER, STEVE HUNT, BRIAN SANDSTROM, AND MARS WILLIAMS

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For more than two years this quartet has held down a Tuesday-night residency at Hotti Biscotti, improvising without a net, and their brand-new debut, Extraordinary Popular Delusions (Okka Disk), is a ferocious, fully committed set that careens from scalding free blowing to abstract rumination. Though it was recorded just after their regular gig began, they display a preternatural level of interconnection--keyboardist Jim Baker, drummer Steve Hunt, bassist-guitarist Brian Sandstrom, and reedist Mars Williams were hardly strangers at that session, having worked together in steady groups like the NRG Ensemble and Caffeine as well as countless ad hoc ensembles. Their shared history, which stretches back to the fallow early 80s, is part of the foundation of Chicago's current free-jazz scene, and though these guys are pushing twice the age of most everyone who plays the Hungry Brain on Sundays, they can hold their own next to anybody in town. Between Baker's ARP synth and Sandstrom's electric guitar, the ensemble makes heavy use of electronics, delivering fiery analog sermons that could provide valuable lessons to the laptop brigades. A group led by Califone drummer Joe Adamik plays the evening's late set at 11 PM. a 8:30 PM, Hotti Biscotti, 3545 W. Fullerton, 773-292-6877. F --Peter Margasak

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