When: Thu., Feb. 2, 10 p.m. 2012
Drummer Chris Corsano and bassist Darin Gray are well-known players in their own right, and together they're Chikamorachi, a rhythm section Jim O'Rourke assembled in the mid-aughts to back the great Japanese free-jazz reedist Akira Sakata. Maintaining a constantly roiling, high-energy churn, they surge to match Sakata's powerhouse blowing and ebb when he pushes into more lyrical and contemplative territory. Last year's breathless double CD And That's the Story of Jazz . . . (Family Vineyard), recorded on a 2008 Japanese tour, features O'Rourke making like Japanese free-jazz guitarist Masayuki Takayanagi with whiplash squalls of corrosive noise; Gray and Corsano play with unflagging energy, pulling back to give their cohorts space when they need it and cranking up to 11 when it won't crowd the front line, and the pieces always flow rather than progressing in fits and starts. But the duo does more than just react adroitly—on "Nagoya 1," for example, Gray's thick arco playing and Corsano's sizzling cymbals lead the whole band into a stretch of meditative incantation. As part of the 2009 Umbrella Music Festival, Chikamorachi played an explosive Chicago concert with Sakata, which has since been released on vinyl by Family Vineyard as Live at Hungry Brain; in O'Rourke's absence you can hear the connection between rhythm section and leader even more clearly. Gray and Corsano are on a short midwest tour, and they've got a pair of shows in town. Tonight they'll play two sets with Chicago fire-breather Mars Williams, and on Sunday they'll play in various combinations with saxophonist Dave Rempis, bassist Joshua Abrams, and percussionist Michael Zerang. —Peter Margasak See also Sunday.