Three local improvisers converge for the first time | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Three local improvisers converge for the first time


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Chicago hosts one of the world’s most vibrant improvisational scenes, so it’s not automatically remarkable when three of the city’s musicians get together to create in a live setting. But this combination stands out because of the unusual affiliations each member brings to this first-time encounter. In addition to playing low-key rock music with Zelienople and abstracted folk themes with Scott Tuma, percussionist Mike Weis performs ambient soundscapes with Mirror of Nature and solo material influenced by forms of Korean rituals. Steven Hess hits the drums hard and precise with art-metal combos Locrian and RLYR and combines stark beats with electronic textures in Cleared, but he also explores the resonance of Kentucky caves with the experimental ensemble Haptic on their new CD Ten Years Under the Earth (Unfathomless). And Keefe Jackson is a redoubtable presence on Chicago’s jazz scene, contributing tenor saxophone and bass and contrabass clarinets to his own bands, Greg Ward’s Mingus-themed 10 Tongues band, and Jason Stein’s muscular, swinging quartet as well as plunging into fractious free improvisation in the Urge Trio with Tomeka Reid and Christoph Erb. Hess and Weis have played exactly one duo concert, a marvelous exploration of textures and rhythms that took place six years ago at the Impala Gallery, and Weis also occasionally guests with Haptic; Jackson has guested with Mirror of Nature; and Hess and Jackson are both members of Austrian saxophonist Boris Hauf’s sextet Next Delusion, which layers heavy reed squalls over the restless interplay of multiple drummers. Just what this performance will sound like is open to conjecture, but you can count on the three men to be thoughtful, forceful, and wide open to possibility.   v

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