Rafael Toral, Jim Baker, and Steve Hunt; Green Pasture Happiness | Elastic | Experimental, Jazz | Chicago Reader

Rafael Toral, Jim Baker, and Steve Hunt; Green Pasture Happiness Recommended All Ages Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Wed., March 9, 9:30 p.m. 2011

When Portuguese sound artist Rafael Toral last played in Chicago, he gave a solo recital to introduce a jazz-inspired approach to electronic music that he calls the Space Program. He named it both for its sonics, which recall the soundtrack of Forbidden Planet and the robot chatter from Star Wars, and for the palpable silences—the spaces—that surround each gesture. Six years and three collaborative albums later, he's developed his program into a viable mode of improvisational discourse. Toral's instrumental arsenal includes personal inventions and hot-wired consumer electronics like the Bender (a modified Fender Mini Twin); their inherent instability guarantees that he never knows exactly what sounds will come out. Despite this limitation, Toral plays them with a laconic sense of timing and an instinct for linear development that make me think of Steve Lacy—that is, if Lacy had played the ray gun instead of the saxophone. In the company of sympathetic musicians, in particular fantastic Angolan percussionist Cesar Burago, Toral's music acquires a humid, jungle vibe. Tonight he'll play with two locals, keyboardist Jim Baker and drummer Steve Hunt; Green Pasture Happiness opens. Toral also performs with bassist Darin Gray and percussionist Michael Zerang at Heaven Gallery on Saturday, March 12. —Bill Meyer

Price: $8

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