Ballsy, nervous, driven, eclectic–David Murray’s hyperexpressive tenor has most often resembled one of those charismatic maniacs, the life-of-the-party type who might truly charm you if he’d come out from behind that wall of ironic technique. Murray’s style stands among the earliest examples of postmodernism in jazz. It evokes the sensuous croon of Ben Webster, the fluttery flights of George Adams, the soulful shrieks of Albert Ayler, and the roughhouse stomp of Rahsaan Roland Kirk–then slaps them together in a deconstruction of jazz history. Some of Murray’s fans don’t seem to need more than that; meanwhile, his detractors invariably whine that he’s all surface. But as a leader, most notably of his well-regarded octet, the precocious reedman reveals a defter touch. And lately the order and depth of his ensembles temper his saxophone ebullience more than ever before. On his latest North American release, Fo Deuk Revue (Justin Time)–an efflorescent melange featuring American jazzmen, Senegalese percussionists and vocalists, and outlaw poet Amiri Baraka–Murray goes beyond mere juxtaposition, forging a real, irresistible fusion that bridges continents and melts away genres. In Chicago, Murray will join the Ritual Trio, led by old pal Kahil El’Zabar. El’Zabar’s drumming has brought a focus to Murray’s saxophonics whenever they have performed together, most notably on Golden Sea (Sound Aspects), their mesmerizing duo date from 1989. And the interplay between Murray and the trio’s sax man, Ari Brown (fresh from recording his much-anticipated second album), promises galvanic results: Brown favors earth in his playing, a clear complement to Murray’s air-sign peregrinations. Murray’s appearance marks the advent of a formidable new venue for postfreedom jazz: El’Zabar recently became a partner in the club, which until now operated mainly as a neighborhood spot; he plans to import a steady stream of top-name progressive improvisers. Friday and Saturday, 8 PM, Rituals, 537 S. Dearborn; 312-922-3834. NEIL TESSER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Daniel Miller.