The band's name describes the music it plays--music from around the world, Rio to New Delhi, Oslo to Johannesburg. But almost any project that stars Howard Levy ought to have the word "globo" in its name. The Chicago-based Levy is a musical polymath, absorbing both musical styles and musical skills like a sponge. A demon pianist in his teens, he began fooling around with the blues harp before he left college and soon invented a technique of bending notes up, not just down like every blues-harp player before him; he can take a little Hohner Marine Band where no harmonicat has gone before. (Levy also plays about a hundred percussion instruments and dabbles in flute and guitar, but not with Trio Globo.) He's been known to spend his off nights jamming with Greek bands, teasing out the intricacies of songs in impossible meters, and just last week at Ravinia he did yeoman work on a program of Astor Piazzolla's tangos, substituting his harmonica for the late composer's button accordion. In Trio Globo, formed five years ago, Levy teams up with two other geomusical explorers: Cellist Eugene Friesen, like his better-known peer David Darling, exploits his classical training to create the arioso melodies and crisp rhythms that characterize a preponderance of the world's folk-music traditions. Percussionist Glen Velez primarily plays the frame drum, a large, flat hand instrument used in various forms in the music of Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, and aboriginal South America; not surprisingly, the rhythms of these cultures figure heavily into the trio's music. Trio Globo's ready blending of diverse source material can yield intelligent, startlingly coherent music, but it has its pitfalls: on the band's most recent album, 1995's somewhat cloying Carnival of Souls (Silver Wave), many of the tunes acquired a schmaltzy pan-ethnic gloss. Hopefully the trio's wildly successful, eponymously titled 1994 debut is a better indication of what we'll hear at its first Chicago appearance in two years. Saturday, 10 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo; 312-362-9707. NEIL TESSER
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.