Samuel Blaser & Bobby Avey Recommended Soundboard

When: Sun., March 18, 10 p.m. 2012

He's hardly well-known in the U.S., but last year Berlin-based Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser released two superb albums that make a strong case for him as one of the premier practitioners of his instrument in jazz. On Boundless (Hatology) he shows off his brawny, open-ended improvising in a muscular quartet, and his sleek tone stays lustrous even when he drops into a deep growl. Driven by the shape-shifting phrases and elastic timekeeping of drummer Gerald Cleaver and the coarse, knotty lines of bassist Bänz Oester, Blaser intertwines with or struts beside the flinty, aggressive playing of guitarist Marc Ducret—and he's just as good at knowing when to drop out. For the very different Consort in Motion (Kind of Blue), a wonderful collection that adapts music by Italian baroque composers (Monteverdi, Frescobaldi, and Marini), Blaser extracted the melodic content from each piece and wrote an arrangement around it for his astute band—pianist Russ Lossing, bassist Thomas Morgan, and the late drum great Paul Motian, who stamped the session with his distinctive mix of melody, spaciousness, and scrappy buoyancy. In Blaser's hands the material feels utterly contemporary, its well-proportioned tunefulness adrift in elusive rhythms. For his second visit to Chicago, Blaser again partners with New York pianist Bobby Avey. On an as-yet-unreleased duo recording, the two musicians balance free improvisation with themes inspired by a more modern set of composers (among them Busoni, Schoenberg, Schnittke, and Dutilleux), and their warm rapport allows their best traits to shine: Blaser's command of multiphonics and Avey's lush, romantic harmonies. —Peter Margasak

Price: $7 suggested donation

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