The versatile and learned new-music collective Cube is at its funky best in alternative venues like Cafe Voltaire: improvisation-minded and jazz–influenced, the performers–most of them academics–loosen up, ready to turn the space into an intellectual’s cabaret. For this season opener, Cube’s core ensemble–Caroline Pittman (flute), Janice Misurell-Mitchell (voice and flute), Jeffrey Kust (guitar), Patricia Morehead (oboe and English horn), Dane Richeson (percussion), and Philip Morehead (keyboard)–will revive local jazz musician Douglas Ewart’s Red Hills, a masterful ode to his native Jamaica, and When the Moon Jumps by Lawrence University’s Ken Schaphorst, which underpins Count Basie’s big-band sound with Ghanaian drumming rhythms. Richeson, who’s studied in Ghana, will bang on a variety of African drums. He’ll also improvise an extended duet with cellist Matthew Turner; both musicians are colleagues of Schaphorst’s at Lawrence. Two of Misurell-Mitchell’s hybrid compositions are on the bill: her latest piece for solo steel-stringed guitar, Dark Was the Night, embellishes a Ry Cooder number based on a blues spiritual; Scat/Rap Counterpoint updates Brechtian music theater. Three other solo pieces–Kathleen Ginther’s meditative Wind Pool, John Anthony Lennon’s flashy Echolalia, and contemporary Russian composer Edison Denisov’s Solo for Oboe–all experiment with instrumental techniques. The echo effects for flute in the Lennon are stunning. Sunday, 7 PM, Cafe Voltaire, 3231 N. Clark; 528-3136.