Saxophonist David Murray has a lengthy, ongoing relationship with Chicago percussionist Kahil El’Zabar. Since the duo’s simpatico performance on The Golden Sea (Sound Aspects)–the first pairing of the hornman’s freedom-seeking revisionism and the timekeeper’s meditative appropriation of African roots–their compelling juxtaposition of fiery postbop blowing and serene rhythms has matured into something of a musical institution. While sticking closer to its leader’s hypnotic explorations of ritual, the aptly named Ritual Trio, El’Zabar’s enduring collaboration with bassist Malachi Favors and reedman Ari Brown, has explored similar terrain. Both Favors, a founding member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and Brown have no problem taking the music out, but the demands of the Ritual Trio normally keep them somewhat controlled. As far as I know this gig marks the first time Murray has joined the Ritual Trio, and it’s loaded with potential. Murray spits out recordings at an alarming rate and in myriad contexts, but his best work–from
the rich contrapuntal arranging that characterizes his octet to his pioneering work in the World Saxophone Quartet (whose Julius Hemphill recently passed away)–occurs when he’s pitted against other horn players. Brown, whose playing offers a worthy foil, is just as apt to vamp at the piano, but it’s the promise of locked horns that makes this proposition so interesting. Thursday, 8:30 PM, HotHouse, 1565 N. Milwaukee; 235-2334.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photos/Lloyd DeGrane, David Gahr.