When: Tue., Oct. 11, 12 p.m. 2011
Like many of his peers—trumpeter Dave Douglas and reedist Ken Vandermark among them—Dutch jazz pianist Michiel Braam leads several groups of varying sizes and aesthetics in order to express the full range of his artistry. His long-running big band, Bik Bent Braam, will call it a day in 2012, but he'll stay plenty busy: his ongoing projects include the hard-charging Wurli Trio (where he plays Wurlitzer organ, supported by electric bass and drums), a sextet he leads with singer Greetje Bijma, and a fantastic newish project called the Hybrid 10tet. Its lineup consists of the members of the Wurli Trio and the Matangi String Quartet, plus horn players Carl Ludwig Hübsch (tuba), Nils Wogram (trombone), and Taylor Ho Bynum (trumpet), and on last month's On the Move the group combines ideas from three realms—a propulsive electric fusion of rock and postbop, small-ensemble classical music, and freely improvised jazz. In lesser hands this would result in a tacky pastiche, but Braam carefully balances the diverse elements, giving each a turn at the music's heart and never treating one like mere window dressing. On this trip to Chicago, Braam brings his best working band, his trio with bassist Wilbert de Joode and drummer Michael Vatcher, which celebrated its 20th year in 2009. Like Bik Bent Braam, it treats his compositions rather lightly, which is a very Dutch way of doing things—they function as launch pads, not strict blueprints, and anyone in the group can cue a jump to another section of the tune, to another tune entirely, or even to something purely improvised. On last year's killer Quartet, guest reedists Michael Moore, Paul Dunmall, and Mats Gustafsson take turns raising the stakes by providing an extra source of spontaneous direction, but the trio doesn't need their help to make thrilling, seat-of-the-pants music that veers from elegant swing to jumbled chaos in the blink of an eye. —Peter Margasak See also 10 PM.