Derek Bailey plays guitar, but you’ll be excused if you don’t immediately recognize that fact, since he has pushed the instrument so far beyond its expected limitations. (No less a guitar explorer than Henry Kaiser has commented that “Derek stepped on the gas and left the rest of us in the dust.”) Bailey’s technique persistently uncovers extramusical noises, perplexing melodic leaps, and startling textures, hybridized into an endless array of surprises. A leader of England’s free-jazz scene for decades–having organized various influential ensembles, as well as the Incus Records label–Bailey’s powerful improvisations swat ideas around like ping-pong balls, all the while providing a clinic in obscure, nearly unique guitar methodologies. He belongs to a fascinating group of mavericks–saxophonists Evan Parker and Ned Rothenberg, pianist Cecil Taylor, trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff among them–who turn their musical brilliance inward, upon their instruments, finding new capabilities that in turn shape the music they create. Bailey will perform solo in this, his only midwest appearance. Tonight, 9 PM, Club Lower Links, 954 W. Newport; 248-5238.