Wadada Leo Smith
Wadada Leo Smith will be performing at Constellation's anniversary party. Credit: Jimmy Katz

Given the relentless corporatization of American life, any place you can find that isn’t a front for a faceless, rent-seeking conglomerate feels special. Certain independent music venues earn a special reverence by establishing a center of gravity for communities and movements in need. Since April 2013, when Constellation opened on Western Avenue in a shared space with Links Hall, it’s been far more than just a club with cutting-edge bookings; it’s been a stabilizing and nurturing influence on jazz, classical, experimental, and other music scenes buffeted by an increasingly hostile economic and political climate. 

For its tenth anniversary, Constellation is taking a moment to celebrate and promote its nonprofit arm, Constellation Performing Arts, an endeavor that seeks to cover programming costs; if you buy a weekend pass, 60 percent of the price is tax deductible. Each night is packed with performers who’ve repeatedly trod the venue’s floorboards, and several are presenting new work. On Friday, octogenarian trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith—who recently released a bristling, electric recording titled Fire Illuminations on his Kabell imprint—will lead a band that includes Constellation founder and CPA board president Mike Reed on drums. Josephine Foster uses guitar, field recordings, and her sui generis warble to project a holistic vision of nature on Domestic Sphere (Fire), which comes out the day of her performance. Joshua Abrams’s Natural Information Society releases Since Time Is Gravity (Eremite) a week later, but anyone lucky enough to catch their celebratory New Year’s Eve concert at Constellation already has an idea of how strong that album’s material is. Sam Prekop will play a solo electronic set, and Bitchin Bajas will close Friday night with their immaculate synthetic grooves. 

Saturday kicks off with a solo set by Arto Lindsay (formerly of DNA and Ambitious Lovers), whose recent Charivari (Corbett vs. Dempsey) enacts a vertiginous dance between his allusive crooning and beyond-corroded guitar playing. Angels & Demons, a duo of vocalist Amirtha Kidambi and alto saxophonist Darius Jones, will investigate the texts of Sun Ra. Pianist Craig Taborn and local analog sorceress Matchess will play solo sets, and Finom (the chameleonic art-rock band formerly known as Ohmme) will cap the celebration.

Constellation Turns 10! night one: Bitchin Bajas headline the first show of Constellation’s two-night birthday party; Natural Information Society, Josephine Foster, Sam Prekop, and Wadada Leo Smith open. Fri 4/7, 7 PM, Constellation, 3111 N. Western, $50 per night, $250 VIP weekend pass, 18+

Constellation Turns 10! night two: Finom headline the second show of Constellation’s two-night birthday party; Matchess, Craig Taborn, Angels & Demons, and Arto Lindsay open. 7 PM, Constellation, 3111 N. Western, $50 per night, $250 VIP weekend pass, 18+