The holiday season in Chicago often means great things for the city’s musical institutions, as local musicians who spend much of their time on the road coalesce in their hometown. Both reedist Ken Vandermark and percussionist Hamid Drake are road dogs, but in December they’re known to come together with longtime collaborator and bassist Kent Kessler in their high-octane improvising outfit DKV Trio, one of the city’s most reliable, hard-hitting combos. The trio doesn’t offer too many surprises in its sound these days, but as the excellent Latitude 41.88 (Not Two), recorded live at Milwaukee’s Sugar Maple in December of 2014 and released last month, makes clear, it doesn’t matter; the band seems to find an endless supply of new wrinkles within its limber yet muscular approach. Driven by the fluid, fierce rhythm section, Vandermark’s sinewy tenor and baritone playing meaningfully taps into his love of vintage R&B, pushing the gritty honking style of 40s bar walking into the realm of abstraction without forsaking meaty, memorable licks or melodic fragments. Each of the three tracks clocks in at around 20 minutes, making space for some unaccompanied solos as well as thrilling ebb-and-flow roller-coaster rides. Though the group only meets up in town once or twice a year these days, the musicians draw upon their deep rapport and intuitive drive and never seem rusty but insteadplug directly into an almost subconscious interplay between them. This year’s engagement is even more exciting than usual, thanks to the presence of the singular Poughkeepsie multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee, a seemingly ageless 78-year-old with extensive ties to each player. I expect his contributions will both bolster the trio’s power quotient and enhance the contemplative side that surfaces now and again.   v