British saxophonist Tony Bevan is living proof that you can't measure an improviser's talent by the length of his discography. He's released about as many albums in his decade-plus career as guys like John Butcher and Evan Parker do per year, and the most recent, a 1998 three-inch CD called Three Oranges (Foghorn), is tiny both physically and temporally. But what little he has recorded is exceptional. His first three albums--Original Gravity (Incus, 1989), Bigshots (Incus, 1992), and Twisters (Scatter, 1996)--are all trio efforts marked by quick intuition, a broad dynamic spectrum, and dazzling tonal colors. On a canvas of metallic percussion by Matt Lewis or Steve Noble, Bevan manipulates his striated tone like a painter adjusting his brush strokes: some sounds are long, wide, and spacious, others squat and impossibly dense. But Three Oranges, a collection of solos played on the huge and rarely heard bass saxophone, is probably the best preview for Bevan's local debut. While he wrangled the big horn with Noble and bassist Alexander Frangenheim on Twisters, here he takes better advantage of its unique qualities, playing its lowest, earthiest honks against cage-rattling harmonic shrieks for dramatic effect. His improvisations are more driving than on the trio records, making up for the lack of rhythmic accompaniment, but they're no less complex or fluid. Wednesday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. Peter Margasak
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Dennis Austin.