Genius reedist Ken Vandermark formed Spaceways Inc. in 1999 with bassist Nate McBride and drummer Hamid Drake to play the music of George Clinton and Sun Ra, and as the group evolved it incorporated original material written in a similar vein. On their second album, Version Soul (2002), the trio experimented with reggae grooves, but as Drake became more in demand as a sideman the group got mothballed like so many other Vandermark projects. In late 2003, however, they reemerged to cut Radiale (Atavistic), a collaboration with Italian jazz-punk trio Zu. Half the tracks pair Zu with Vandermark alone; on another, the two groups together move beyond the Clinton and Sun Ra interpretations with a take on the funky Art Ensemble of Chicago classic "Theme de Yoyo." The double-trio format adds density and ferocity to their sound, but in some ways the record sounds like a step backward, forsaking the rhythmic advances on Spaceways' second album for the full-throttle funk on its debut. Hopefully the trio will pick up where it left off on Version Soul at this show; McBride recently moved here from Boston, so this performance, the first here since fall 2002, may signal a return to action. Wed 12/29, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $7.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Michael Jackson.