Susie Ibarra has become the free-jazz drummer of choice in New York these days, and it’s not hard to hear why. Only 28, she has developed a powerful free attack–meterless, tonally rich, melodic, and muscular–and she has a deep natural swing. Much has been made of her knowledge of Indonesian gamelan and Philippine kulintang music (her parents hail from the Philippines) and her three years of study under master percussionist Milford Graves, who along with Sunny Murray practically invented free-jazz drumming in the 60s. But although those experiences have clearly shaped her playing, her sound is very much her own. While previous recordings with David S. Ware–whose group she recently left–and pianist Matthew Shipp have made good use of her talents, her skills are more apparent than ever on a pair of recent duet recordings. One, Drum Talk (Wobbly Rail), is a joyous percussion conversation with the late Denis Charles (who played with Cecil Taylor and Steve Lacy) that takes liberties with everything from a series of press rolls to traditional Filipino folk music. The other is Home Cookin’, a terrific new album recorded with her husband, reedist Assif Tsahar, and released on their own new imprint, Hopscotch. It places her in a slightly more traditional role–prodding, accenting, and molding the horn player’s impassioned statements. Tsahar plays a brawny tenor that suggests Charles Gayle and Archie Shepp, but Ibarra makes him sound even more distinctive than he would without her. On Wednesday Ibarra will duet with percussionist Hamid Drake, and then the two of them will be joined by Tsahar and tenor great Fred Anderson. On Thursday Ibarra and Tsahar will play with reedist Ken Vandermark. Both shows start at 9:30 PM at the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.