Samuel Blaser Trio Credit: Courtesy the Artist

Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser lets his curiosity and versatility flow from project to project, whether he’s recontextualizing baroque music by Monteverdi and Machaut in an improvisational context or exploring the chamberlike dynamic of reedist Jimmy Giuffre’s early 60s trio with Steve Swallow and Paul Bley. Two dazzling new recordings offer further proof of his agile improvisational acumen. The most recent, Oostum (No Business), is an intimate series of duets with American drummer Gerry Hemingway where his playing moves between richly melodic, garrulous passages that exploit his horn’s extroverted personality to snorting, crab-walking flatulence to intensely muted conversational mutterings where he seems to be channeling human whispers. He and Hemingway are in constant dialogue, reflecting upon each other’s spontaneous gestures and utterances, and anticipating what might come next. This week Blaser returns to Chicago leading the shape-shifting trio behind last year’s live album Taktlos Zürich 2017 (Hatology). The trio, which includes electric guitarist Marc Drucet and drummer Peter Brunn, formed in 2013 and had played about 120 concerts by the time of thatperformance; the natural way the musicians toggle responsibilities within each piece—including one tune by each member as well as an interpretation of Igor Stravinsky’s “Fanfare for a New Theatre”—is a product of its experience and rapport. There are moments of hurtling propulsion where postbop fundamentals are turned inside out, but the trio is equally comfortable playing in free time, building tightrope-dangerous balancing acts and embracing flinty collisions in the generous spaces mapped out between sections of its wide-open scores. Nowhere is this better exemplified than on “Stoppage,” the episodic epic by Ducret that opens the album like a trek through every sort of landscape.   v