Survival Unit III, DJ Joshua Abrams | Hideout | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Survival Unit III, DJ Joshua Abrams Member Picks Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Wed., Sept. 17, 10 p.m. 2014

After some musicians failed to show up for a gig in 1971, Joe McPhee devised his first “survival unit,” consisting of a tape machine and some prerecorded material, so that he’d always have some sort of accompaniment as he played his burgeoning collection of reed and brass instruments. But in Survival Unit III, a band he’s led since 2004, he’s joined by cellist and guitarist Fred Lonberg-Holm and drummer Michael Zerang, two musicians who can be counted on to show up—and to draw out some of his most expressive playing. McPhee has always combined a fiery attack derived from first-generation free jazz with a flair for quietly poetic gestures. But on the trio’s latest album, Game Theory (Not Two), he responds to his partners’ fuzz-toned noise squalls and Middle Eastern-descended grooves with not only soulful, flowing alto-sax improvisations and tragic pocket-trumpet flourishes, but also with eerie cries sung into his horn and a climactic recitation of a poem against poverty. The survival he’s worried about these days isn’t about getting through a gig but rather about humanity lasting long enough to outgrow injustice. Since 2007, Mitch Cocanig has booked and managed the Immediate Sound series on Wednesdays at the Hideout. Though the club intends to continue hosting jazz and improvised music, this is Cocanig’s final concert there; consider it an Irish wake for a cultural treasure. —Bill Meyer

Price: $12

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