Chicago’s been home to many great saxophonists, the majority of them jazz musicians. Jeremy Ruthrauff plays classical sax–not the usual fare of Glazunov and Berlioz, but contemporary compositions that reach for the fringes of instrumental abilities and seek to explore any new materials found there. I’ve seen him many times with the Vision Saxophone Quartet, a group that has yet to really grab me, and as a member of Gene Coleman’s Ensemble Noamnesia. But a recent solo slot on a mixed bill totally turned me on my ear. Ruthrauff’s control of the horn, particularly the full range of harmonics, was uncanny; he played blocks of multiphonics effortlessly, creating the illusion of multiple lines moving through chords, a full-fledged pseudopolyphony. And he did this with enough warmth to keep from turning into a nerdy technician–though he’ll no doubt turn to other extended techniques (many now standard practice) such as circular breathing, slap key, and vocalizing through the horn. Though Ruthrauff often plays works by other composers, like Mauricio Kagel, Luciano Berio, and Giacinto Scelsi, he’s a fine composer, and in this recital he’ll be performing nine of his own solo pieces–three for alto, four for soprano, one for tenor, and one for amplified tenor–including “Gifts to Make Children of the Seers,” the incredible alto composition mentioned above. Ruthrauff has two CDs in the works: one a compilation of pieces by various composers, including Iannis Xenakis, Franco Donatoni, and Lukas Foss, and another titled Alchemy, featuring the solo works he’s performing here. Friday, 7 PM, Sherwood Conservatory of Music, 1014 S. Michigan; 764-4223 or 427-6267.

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