PIERRE FAVRE DRUM ORCHESTRA
Switzerland, the country that practically invented timekeeping, has produced only a handful of internationally known jazz musicians--and not surprisingly, most of them have been drummers. Of the three important Swiss percussionists of the last 30 years, Pierre Favre is the least well-known, behind Daniel Humair and Fritz Hauser; he tours infrequently, and in fact this performance is his local debut. Like Humair and Hauser, Favre has an exacting style, which might sound fussy if not for his graciousness and restraint. He lets the spaces between rhythms breathe, giving his clockwork precision a three-dimensional depth, and avoids cluttering the air with extraneous technical displays. Favre brings this finesse to the fore on his most recent major-label recording, the 1996 Window Steps (ECM), where his playing seals together, rather than contrasts with, the lovely intimacy of a two-horn, one-cello quintet. But his 1984 ECM outing, the percussion quartet Singing Drums, offers a better preview of what we'll hear from him in Chicago. For that album Favre joined with fellow drummers Fredy Studer, Paul Motian, and Nana Vasconcelos to record seven of his own compositions, and despite the rigorous structure of each piece the performances brim with intrigue. I expect a similar mix of detailed expression and guiding intelligence from this "orchestra"--which is actually just Favre and Studer. The name's only misleading if you count heads, though: if you listen instead of look, the duo's panoply of drums, cymbals, shakers, and gongs suggests a much larger ensemble. Wednesday, November 15, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.