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Seattle violist Eyvind Kang and transatlantic trio Hear in Now are highlights of this year’s Jazz String Summit

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There are few musicians at work with the curiosity, rigor, and range of Seattle-area violist Eyvind Kang, who has gradually expanded his arsenal to include string instruments like the Persian setar and the Indonesian plucked zither called the kecapi. Those additions weren’t without study—Kang is fluent in Arabic, Persian, and Indonesian traditions as well as improvisation, jazz, and art-pop, and he's played with guitarist Bill Frisell and crafted string arrangements for the likes of Aoife O’Donovan and Marissa Nadler. His imagination and sophistication are in full bloom on the 2014 album Alastor (Tzadik), a set of dynamic arrangements of tunes from John Zorn’s Book of Angels where Jewish themes are recast into a kind of orchestral, psychedelic Indonesian pop with Middle Eastern overtones. It’s as gorgeous as it is unique. A much different side of his aesthetic is on display on last year’s Reverse Tree (Black Truffle), a collaborative record with his wife, singer and composer Jessika Kenney, on which Kang’s spooky lines navigate a thicket of overtone-rich electric guitar and electric cello. For this rare local performance he’ll perform solo and introduce both evenings of this year’s Chicago Jazz String Summit with a presentation on the late violinist Michael White, one of his early mentors. Tonight’s concert also serves as a release party for the superb second album by string collective Hear in Now called Not Living in Fear (International Anthem). Each of the group’s three members—summit organizer and cellist Tomeka Reid, New York violinist Mazz Swift, and Italian bassist Silvia Bolognesi—wrote some of the sturdy tunes, which move with greater force, interaction, and inventiveness than the material from their debut. Even as the players shift between lead and support roles on pieces spanning jazz, classical, and folk modes, there’s a meditative intensity that holds it together beautifully and convincingly. New Orleans cellist Helen Gillet also performs.   v

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