Urs Leimgruber, Jason Roebke, and Steve Hunt; Urs Leimgruber; DJ Jeff Kimmel | Hideout | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Urs Leimgruber, Jason Roebke, and Steve Hunt; Urs Leimgruber; DJ Jeff Kimmel Recommended Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Wed., May 27, 9:30 p.m. 2009

Swiss saxophonist Urs Leimgruber made a lasting impression on my novice ears when I first got into European improvised music in the late 80s—two decades later I can still recognize his sound instantly. Though he used the same kinds of extended technique as Evan Parker or Roscoe Mitchell (extreme harmonics, overblowing, circular breathing), there was a distinctive rasp to his tone, whether on soprano or tenor, and a cogent compositional logic to his improvisations—he demonstrated a language all his own, both on his brilliant 1988 solo record, Statement of an Antirider (Hat Art), and on a series of duo outings with equally distinctive percussionist Fritz Hauser. In the 20 years since, he’s continued to evolve in several directions, sometimes dialing down the energy to focus on discrete gestures and sometimes erupting into the extreme upper reaches of his instrument’s range—the 2007 solo disc 13 Pieces for Saxophone (Leo) is more abstract and nuanced than Antirider but also includes some of the most precisely ferocious playing I’ve ever heard. At its heart, though, his musical personality hasn’t changed; on the new Love Letters to the President (Intakt), an often overwhelming trio album with fellow reedists Hans Koch and Omri Ziegele, I can pick him out of the fray with no trouble at all. Tonight he’ll improvise solo for one set, then play a second set with bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Steve Hunt; Jeff Kimmel spins. Leimgruber plays again Thursday, May 28, at Elastic, first in a duo with Hunt and then in a quartet with Hunt, Paul Giallorenzo, and Lou Mallozzi. —Peter Margasak

Price: $8

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