Until a couple years ago, Jason Roebke had a fadeaway problem. He’d be thwacking along in the thick of the action, then abruptly drift off into private, whispered consultation with his bass. But his improvised showdowns with various partners at last summer’s Vancouver Jazz Festival appear to have been a watershed, and Tigersmilk (Family Vineyard), a new disc recorded in 2001 with Vanc drummer Dylan van der Schyff and Chicago Underground cornetist Rob Mazurek, shows a heightened presence and confidence: he gets a plosive jazz attack when he wants to and a fat writhing tone once the string is set vibrating. Sensitive to sudden changes in speed or texture, he burrows into the middle of things and makes the other improvised lines seem like offshoots of his. He takes the same approach in Rapid Croche, a trio with drummer Tim Daisy and Aram Shelton on alto sax and E-flat clarinet that shows how the old south-side AACM avant-garde continues to influence north-side progressives. Anthony Braxton’s leapy melodies and wide voicings are in there, as is Air’s equilateral approach—the scored frames suggest rhythmic or thematic motifs to pursue, and anyone can steer or take the foreground. The trio splits the bill with Kevin Drumm, master of analog electronics for a digital universe, and a trio of cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, bassist Kent Kessler, and drummer Michael Zerang, as part of the three-night Elastic Festival curated by Dave Rempis. The festival features many musical-chairs appearances by Bottle and post-Bottle regulars, as well as a Jeff Parker solo set and a rare sighting of ex-Hal Russell drummer Steve Hunt (both on Saturday). Friday, February 7, 9 PM, 3030, 3030 W. Cortland; 773-862-3616.

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