The mostly expatriate Art Ensemble of Chicago–one of the most famous acts to come out of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians–seldom comes here to play anymore, and neither do its two saxophonists, Joseph Jarman and Roscoe Mitchell, who continue to maintain careers separate from the group. So it’s almost miraculous that they’ll both be in their hometown this week. I have a strong hunch that Jarman has been the most consistently excellent saxman of the last decade, but verifying it with anything apart from his bare handful of stunning returns is another matter entirely: most of his few recordings since he left in 1982 have been within the Art Ensemble’s confines, and nonmusical interests (he is, for instance, a Buddhist priest) have claimed much of his time in any case. He’s a wonderfully swinging melodic player who can delineate moods and emotions with subtle precision, the result of both his stunning command of the alto sax–his facility, his full, rich sound in all registers, even his howls, growls, and honks–and of his highly responsive sensitivity. He’s long inhabited a world of free jazz in which anything from calm reflection to heights of exalted excitement is possible, and he’s done so with a unique aristocratic elegance. Jarman will kick off an eight-week series of AACM concerts at Filmmakers with a quartet–possibly the best medium for his composing and playing–that includes pianist Clovis Bordeaux, electrifying drummer Avreeayl Ra, and bassist Malachi Favors Maghostut. Thursday, 8 PM, Chicago Filmmakers, 1229 W. Belmont; 281-8788.

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