Among saxophone quartets, I know of none that exhibits the rigorous cerebralism of Rova. But that statement suggests some sort of eggheaded emotionlessness, which is not the case: there’s real passion throughout this music, whether it stems from the commitment to extended improvisation or the sheer timbral joy of sax. Messrs. Raskin, Ochs, Voigt, and Ackley have been honing their innovative and influential approach for a dozen years now: it presents musical information at a more complex (yet abstractly cohesive) level than most ensembles dare imagine. No less individualistic is Threadgill’s troupe, which by turns becomes a revival meeting, a rock opera, a calypso dance, a funeral march–all of them laced with Ellingtonian virtues of sound and structure, as well as Threadgill’s own experiences in shaping Chicago’s AACM. The group includes cello and trombone, a terrific drum duo in Reggie Nicholson and Pheeroan ak Laff, and the leader’s crying, strutting saxophones; and (as their latest album title suggests) they indeed create another world into which the listener can easily slip. An appearance by either band would be a must see; together they promise one of the year’s most exciting concerts. Even more impressive, it takes place at the summer music mecca where only a few years ago Chuck Mangione was considered “progressive jazz.” Tuesday, 8 PM, Murray Theatre, Ravinia Festival, Green Bay and Lake Cook roads, Highland Park; 728-4642.

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