Weasel Walter, Paul Hartsaw, and Jim Baker; Weasel Walter, Jeb Bishop, Mike Forbes, and Andrew Scott Young Critic's Choice Recommended Soundboard

When: Sun., Sept. 14, 10 p.m. 2008

Multi-­instrumentalist and provocateur Weasel Walter has left an indelible paw print on Chicago’s music scene. Whether playing woolly free jazz, insanely complicated prog-metal, pug-ugly no wave, or note-perfect Adam & the Ants covers, he was always entertainingly in your face. Since decamping for Oakland in 2003, Walter has joined the vicious death-grind combo Burmese and the high-metabolism noise-punk outfit XBXRX, but what’s really thrilling is the freely improvised music he’s been making lately, drumming in ad hoc groups and with bassist Damon Smith in various lineups—though he pulls back from his usual balls-out brutality, even when his playing is downright delicate it doesn’t lose its intensity. On Opulence (UgExplode), a superb duo CD with guitarist Mary Halvorson, he opens the floodgates for her wildest, grimiest playing by reining in his own volume, and on Oculus ex Abyssus (UgExplode), a new quartet LP from Walter and rising trumpet star Peter Evans, he creates a thrilling tension with intricate figures that adorn the rough surfaces of Evans’s sound like aboriginal sand painting. Walter will play twice, first with keyboardist Jim Baker and saxophonist Paul Hartsaw and then with trombonist Jeb Bishop, tenor saxophonist Mike Forbes, and bassist Andrew Scott Young. —Bill Meyer

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