Sophisticated, roisterous, witty, rough-hewn: generating much of the same spirit that characterizes Willem Breuker’s Koffektief over in Holland, the Jazz Passengers blend music and theater into a performance medium both wacky and invigorating. Led by the intense and imaginative altoist Roy Nathanson, this sextet incorporates violin, trombone, and Bill Ware’s edgy, volatile vibraphone work in a wild ride distinguished by its inspired eclecticism. The Passengers are the best known of the three bands on tonight’s bill, but I’m at least as anxious to hear Tom Chapin, a well-schooled saxist who represents a logical extension of the pianoless trio Sonny Rollins led in the mid-50s. Chapin’s album of last year, Third Force (on the Knitting Factory Works label), brimmed with tunes and solos that walk a wonderful tightrope between bebop and free jazz. They’ll both share the evening with drummer Samm Bennett’s band Chunk, about which I know almost nothing–except that it’s awash in the sound of sampled electronic percussion, which is enough to intrigue me. Despite the considerable appeal of each band, it’s the concept of this concert that will be displayed on the marquee: all three groups have appeared regularly at the Knitting Factory, the much-admired New York performance space that’s filled its niche by presenting new music of all stripes–a description that quite accurately applies to this late-night triple bill. Tonight, 10:30 PM, Cabaret Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Nancy Perlman.