Though figures like Giorgio Gaslini and Enrico Rava have achieved some recognition in the U.S., Italian jazz doesn’t have much currency. In fact, to many jazz listeners it has no meaning. Yet over the last three decades it has come into its own, creatively and humorously appropriating American traditionalism and the edginess of European free improvisation and imaginatively blending them with Italian folk forms. With its swing rhythms, madcap humor, and wild sense of adventure, it recalls Dutch jazz. Saxophonist Mario Schiano has been a leader in Italian jazz since the mid-70s. His earliest work is rooted in a swing sensibility, but he was among the first to incorporate traditional Italian melodies, and his soloing exuded a downright raucous quality. Increasingly Schiano has engaged in free improv. His new Used to Be Friends finds him in the company of some of Europe’s finest improvisers: Paul Lovens, Peter Kowald, Paul Rutherford, and Ernst Reijseger. Though there’s definitely an engaging interaction between the collaborators, Schiano never loses his distinctive Italian humor and melodic schemes. Trombonist Sebi Tramontana is a relative newcomer. I’ve only heard his dazzling 1992 solo work “Il giorno del santo,” on which he uses electronics and magnetic tape while still creating a distinctive Italian drama. Schiano and Tramontana will be joined by bassist Kent Kessler and drummer Steve Hunt, both of the NRG Ensemble. This concert is sponsored in part by the Istituto Italiano di Cultura. Wednesday, 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 276-3600. PETER MARGASAK

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