Until the late 80s, woodwinds expert Andrew Voigt was best known for his work in the improvising saxophone quartet ROVA (the V stands for Voigt). But since striking out on his own, he has devoted more and more time and energy to composing for theater and dance. Corpus Ludens, the quintet he performs with this week, is part band and part dance troupe, featuring “movement artists” Erica Blue and Eponine Moll. (The name is pidgin Latin for “games for the body.”) Voigt, who lives in the Bay Area, assembled a version of Corpus Ludens in Chicago about a year and a half ago, with locals Harrison Bankhead and Hamid Drake on bass and drums and former Chicagoan Vincent Chancey on French horn. They gave several performances, the last of which, at the Velvet Lounge, gave a pretty good idea of the synergy such an outfit can achieve, with Blue and Moll not just illustrating the music but actually using the manipulation of physical space to communicate different but equally important information. On a homemade recording of that gig, the music, “conducted” by Voigt’s rangy, accessible sax and flute playing, traces a clear dramatic arc without sacrificing all-out postfreedom improvising. But the playing follows this path in part because of Blue and Moll: the musicians use their silent movements to help structure their own work. Having seen them in action, I could almost “hear” them on the CD, but mere audio can’t really convey what Corpus Ludens does. The group this time is rounded out by Morgan Guberman on bass and Drake on drums; unfortunately, Chancey won’t be back, and his rugged lead lines and mournful countermelodies will be missed. Wednesday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. Voigt and Moll also perform the preceding Saturday at 7 PM at HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo; 312-362-9707.


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