Although he favors small groups, German free-jazz reedist Peter Brötzmann has from time to time arranged to play his visceral, occasionally violent music with a whole bunch of people. On the explosive octet session Machine Gun in 1968, on the 1984 clarinet summit Berlin Djungle, and on the 1992 guitar-sax squall The Marz Combo, he attempted to balance volcanic solos, feverish group interplay, and some rough organization, but chaos usually won the day. In 1997, Brötzmann decided to try again, this time with Chicago improvisers Ken Vandermark, Mars Williams, Kent Kessler, Jeb Bishop, Michael Zerang, Hamid Drake, and Fred Lonberg-Holm; eventually two other out-of-towners, Swedish reedist Mats Gustafsson and Poughkeepsie multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee, were recruited as well for what became a semiregular gig. This outfit’s rapid and exciting development was captured in 1998 on the ambitious three-CD box The Chicago Octet/Tentet (Okka Disk)–over the course of the set you can hear the nascent knock-down power harnessed into a precise attack. The latest document of the group is Stone/Water (Okka Disk), a blistering 38-minute set recorded last May at Canada’s Victoriaville festival, and it’s an even sharper exploitation of the possibilities of large-scale improvisation. The Tentet combines its multilinear improvisations with loose but propulsive riffing and predetermined combinations of instruments, making the music slightly more predictable–but there’s always a threat of lightning in Brötzmann’s blackened skies. For this show the regulars will be joined by trumpeter Roy Campbell and bassist William Parker; it’s the culmination of a high-profile eight-date U.S. tour financed in part with “tens of thousands of dollars” from Vandermark’s MacArthur grant kitty. Wednesday, 9 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln; 773-728-6000. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Laurence M. Svirchev.