Last week while taking in the Jazz em Agosto festival in Lisbon, I caught a superb set by the Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet, which has made a quantum leap from the already impressive sound on its debut album, last year’s The Middle Picture (Firehouse 12). The group, which will make its Chicago debut in November as part of the Umbrella Music Festival, mixes fluid lyricism with post-Braxtonian complexity (trumpeter Bynum, reedist Matt Bauder, guitarist Mary Halvorson, and violist Jessica Pavone have all studied and played with Anthony Braxton). The material the group played in Lisbon–as well as its sharp execution–proved that it’s evolved significantly since the Middle Picture sessions in 2005 and 2006.

Bynum, who’s based in New York, has a slew of new work planned for the upcoming year, including a sextet album in November. And he recently released Double Trio (Engine), recorded at New York’s Festival of New Trumpet Music in 2006 with fellow trumpeter Stephen Haynes, guitarists Halvorson and Allan Jaffe, and drummers Warren Smith and Tomas Fujiwara. The horn men both contribute original tunes, and they interact like two brains running in parallel but plugged into a common power source.

Bynum is gearing up for yet another recording this week here in Chicago. It’ll be the first album by a quartet that bassist Nate McBride led years ago in Boston, which also includes versatile saxophonist Charlie Kohlhase and drummer Curt Newton (an early collaborator of Ken Vandermark’s). The quartet will make its Chicago debut with two sets on Wednesday at the Hideout.

Today’s playlist:

Astor Piazzolla, Música Popular Contemporánea de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires Vol. 1 (Sony/BMG, Argentina)
Johnny Lunchbreak, Appetizer/Soup’s On (*)
Dennis Brown, The Best of the Joe Gibbs Years (Shanachie)
Roy Orbison, Crying (Monument/Legacy)
Szilard Mezei Ensemble, Sivatag (Creative Sources)