Although billed as such, this isn’t actually a performance by the Schlippenbach Trio, which always has been and probably always will be pianist Alex von Schlippenbach, saxist Evan Parker, and percussionist Paul Lovens; founded in 1970, it’s the oldest working group in European free improv and still one of the most powerful. In 1980 Parker began working in another famous trio, with bassist Barry Guy and percussionist Paul Lytton. But despite the fact that the five musicians have worked together in various configurations over the years, Parker has taken pains to keep the trios distinct. The recent success of a few impromptu collaborations at festivals where both groups were booked, however, seems to have caused him to reconsider, and this gig will feature Lytton on drums. While the core of the Schlippenbach Trio’s music is definitely the rigorous ebb-and-flow, arc-and-skitter dialogue between piano and saxophone–the drums mostly provide running commentary and aggressive prodding–the difference Lytton makes should be distinct. Both he and Lovens opt for color over time, but their approaches are pretty far apart. Lovens loves big surprises, keeping both band mates and listeners on their toes with hefty thuds and gentle groans. Lytton’s not exactly predictable either–in the 80s he rigged up his kit with electronics–but his playing is more consistently frenetic than Lovens’s. (His charged cymbal play sometimes makes me think of cartoon mice scampering over a blazing fire.) But the question isn’t really whether he’ll fit in–it’s how. Wednesday, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photos.