When the Empty Bottle Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music fizzled out a few years ago, things looked dire for anyone who wanted to see real envelope pushers. Then up stepped Umbrella--the collective behind regular jazz nights at the Hungry Brain, Elastic, the Hideout, and Gallery 37. The second annual Umbrella Music Festival is even better than the first, thanks in part to a collaboration with several European consulates that has brought in some of the continent's most exciting players for exclusive engagements.
Die EnttŠuschung (the Disappointment), the Berlin quartet that supported pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach on 2005's Monk's Casino (Intakt), a gutsy three-CD survey of every composition by Thelonious Monk, will be making their U.S. debut. The group includes the brilliant trumpeter Axel Dorner and the nimble bass clarinetist Rudi Mahall and demonstrates an exemplary conception of inside-out jazz.
The Chicago debut of Italian trombonist Gianluca Petrella's quartet is equally exciting. Their Indigo 4 (Blue Note, 2006) has the best sampling work I've ever heard on a jazz record, including a dazzling, ever-shifting patchwork of samples from Monk's "Trinkle Tinkle" that turns the pianist into a virtual fifth member of the group. Also performing are keyboardist Cor Fuhler and cornetist Eric Boeren from Holland, Swiss pianist Irene Schweizer, and Norwegian bassist Ingebrigt Haaker Flaten's superb transcontinental quintet.
See umbrellamusic.org for the lineup and schedule. a November 1-5, various venues. --Peter Margasak