Ingrid Laubrock Credit: Peter Gannushkin /

Chicago is usually considered to be the cultural magnet that brings some of the world’s most adventurous musicians to neighboring midwestern cities. But sometimes Chicago is piggybacking off of its neighbors. Every October Ann Arbor, Michigan, becomes a draw for progressive jazz and improvised music when the annual Edgefest occurs at the Kerrytown Concert House—the five-day extravaganza began on Tuesday and winds down tomorrow. We’re getting plenty of runoff, whether it’s the performance by Tomas Fujiwara’s trio that took place this past Wednesday or tomorrow’s concert by Tim Berne’s new quartet Decay. On Monday saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and drummer Andrew Drury will perform at Experimental Sound Studio as part of the weekly Option series—the latter’s quartet Content Provider, with Laubrock, fellow saxophonist Briggan Krauss, and guitarist Brandon Seabrook, played Edgefest on Thursday.

Early this year Content Provider released a bruising eponymous debut on Drury’s own Soup and Sound Recordings imprint, with Seabrook’s expansive, biting, and metallic guitar often setting the tone. Drury’s compositions seek to translate for other instruments the sort of melodies he metes out on his kit (the album’s final piece is titled “The Band Is a Drum Set”). This explains the kind of primitive shapes each tune delivers: the opener “Keep the Fool” is absolutely manic, with a kind of high-speed, slashing sensibility redolent of old-school bebop played as math rock. “El Sol,” on the other hand, feels monolithic, moving at a slow crawl that alternates between elegant and thuggish. The skeletal compositions give both Krauss and Laubrock plenty of leeway during the open sections, and they both chew up the scenery on a less structured piece like “Ancestors Friends Heroes.” Below you can check out the one tune that Drury didn’t write, a tart take on the Clifford Brown standard “Daahoud,” which is imbued with a kind of noirish romanticism.

Monday’s concert will feature short solo sets by Drury and Laubrock, followed by a duo set. I’m especially excited for the saxophonist’s return to Chicago—she last played here in the summer of 2014 with drummer Tom Rainey—since lately she’s been on a serious tear. She’s a ferocious voice on Hotel Grief (Intakt), the latest album by Rainey’s great trio, and she carried on an ongoing working relationship with former Ex bassist Luc Ex alongside reedist Ab Baars and drummer Hamid Drake on Assemblée (Red Note). On November 6 the debut recording of her group Ubatuba will drop on Firehouse 12 Records. As the name suggests, the quintet is dominated by low brass—the tuba of Dan Peck and trombone of Ben Gerstein, along with alto saxophonist Tim Berne and drummer Rainey. Laubrock has written of the band, “The result is polyphonic, linear and occasionally like a big living organism waltzing over the listener. In this music I was looking for balance and polarity, density and space, rhythm and looseness, notes between notes and variety of color.” I’d hate to give too much credit to the presence of Berne—especially since Laubrock composed all of the music—but his characteristically knotty, zigzagging lines make a strong impression on the overall sound. I’ve only had a chance to listen to the album a couple of times so far, but it’s a real knockout. Below you can hear “Homo Diluvii.”

Earlier this year she released Roulette of the Cradle (Intakt), the third effort from her ensemble Anti-House—one of the most distinctive and challenging groups in music today—with drummer Rainey, guitarist Mary Halvorson, pianist Kris Davis, bassist John Hébert, and, on two tracks, clarinetist Oscar Noriega. Her writing for this ensemble has always been rigorous, with an endless profusion of crisscrossing lines, counter-rhythms, clear-eyed melody, and punishing dissonance, but she achieved a new apex with this one. The music is exhilarating; nothing happens quite as you might expect it. Everyone in the group is a fantastic improviser, and there is plenty of extended soloing, but Laubrock’s writing allows those improvisations to sprout from the performances in meticulous, composerly fashion. Below you can hear the album’s closing track, “Red Hook,” an appealingly loosey-goosey gem with Laubrock on soprano.

Today’s playlist:

Rand Steiger, A Menacing Plume (New World)
Caetano Veloso, Abraçaço (Nonesuch)
R. Andrew Lee, Jürg Frey: Pianist, Alone (Irritable Hedgehog)
Alejandro T. Acierto, Amid These Traces (Prom Night)
Aphex Twin, Syro (Warp)