The group takes its name from a large-scale piece that was recorded a few years ago; it draws its power from the rock-solid execution of a simple concept. For the last 30 years, the tenor/bass/drums trio has proved a perfect launchpad for flights of pure energy; the exclusion of piano not only opens up the sound but also cuts the music loose from strictly denoted harmonic moorings, and the result is often music that has weight but still soars. What’s noteworthy about the Ritual Trio is the authority with which its members go about their work. Malachi Favors, bassist for the Art Ensemble of Chicago, seems to have his mahogany tone plugged into the earth’s rhythm; Ari Brown brings a spiritual strength and a south-sider’s soul to the tenor; and Kahil El-Zabar finds sunbursts as well as running water in the dry-dust timbre of his drums. (They will appear smack in the middle of UndergroundFest 88, which begins tonight, runs through Sunday, and features bands led by pianist Soji Adebayo and trumpeter Malachi Thompson, as well as a “new-generation” septet led by El-Zabar. Call for a complete schedule.) Saturday, 8 PM, 79 Steps, 311 N. Desplaines; 930-5845.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Lauren Deutsch, James Mitchell.