Rex drummer Doug Scharin used to play in a trio called Codeine that mastered the art of stasis. The group’s sorrowful melodies didn’t drift along so much as they hovered, while Scharin slowed time down to a crawl without ever missing a beat. Unfortunately, their sound became a straitjacket: they got better at their one trick, but never learned any others. Scharin has steered clear of that trap with Rex, his trio with guitarist Curtis Harvey and bassist Phil Spirito. (The group’s 1994 debut presented it as a quartet, but it has since ditched the permanent cellist.) On the superb new album, C (Southern), the pace hasn’t picked up much, but the music does move, and through a variety of gorgeous settings. On languid, evocative instrumentals like “Audrey La’Mort” or hooky, partly countrified ballads such as “Morning,” the drums coax the tunes along. Harvey’s melodies are steeped in melancholy, but the band’s elastic attack keeps them from ever sounding outright mopey. There are lots of guests on C, providing plucky banjo, elementary marimba lines, sweeping strings, and a few percussive breakdowns, but the trio has no problem covering a wide dynamic range or creating textures live. Rex has lots of musical friends in Chicago–the trio recently recorded a full-length collaboration with Red Red Meat under the name Loftus–so don’t be surprised if this performance finds some of them stopping by to lend a hand. Scharin also plays in the headlining band, June of 44. Thursday, October 31, 9 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 773-525-6620.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Rex by Dot.