Ever since seeing the 1982 rap documentary Wild Style as a Tokyo teen, DJ Krush has been in love with hip-hop. But he was also an early exponent of acid jazz, and on Ki-Oku (Apollo), a late-90s collaboration with great Japanese trumpeter Toshinori Kondo, he even dabbles in some past-prime-Miles-style fusion. In some ways his latest album, Zen (Red Ink), does the best job yet of integrating his various interests: There’s a new slice of smooth-jazz twaddle with another trumpeter (Kazufumi Kodama), some soulful trip-hop grooving with former Brand New Heavies singer N’Dea Davenport, and a wigged-out turntable battle with former Invisibl Skratch Pikl Phonosycographdisk. Krush pulls a couple new tricks out of his bag, too: he collaborates with Zap Mama singer Marie Daulne on “Danger of Love,” where sultry, harmony-drenched soul slides over stuttering beats, and on “Sonic Traveler” he mixes his own drum ‘n’ bass beats with the hyperactive bata drumming of Nigerian percussionist Tunde Ayanyemi. But the rest of the album is devoted to his lean grooves and head-bobbing beats, complemented this time out by Black Thought of the Roots, El-P of Company Flow, Japan’s Boss the MC, and New York newcomer Kukoo da Baga Bonez. Krush’s infrequent DJ sets–what he’ll be doing here–are terrific, but they’re strictly for heads who can float on a sea of beats all night. Sunday, December 2, 10 PM, Smart Bar, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-4140.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Kelly + Meyers.