The Bridge #2.02 Credit: Courtesy of The Bridge

Several times each year since 2013, a network of improvising musicians called the Bridge has facilitated exchanges of players from France and Chicago. Each iteration assembles a core group drawn from both sides of the Atlantic, and they perform a series of concerts, sometimes welcoming additional players and always developing a unique ensemble chemistry and repertoire. The Bridge 2.02 includes guitarist Raymond Boni, bassists Anton Hatwich and Paul Rogers, and alto saxophone and clarinet player Mai Sugimoto. Boni’s approach to his instrument draws on flamenco techniques but uses effects to obtain subaquatic tones. He’s probably best known in the U.S. for his enduring partnership with multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee, which began in 1978, but at home in France he often works with musicians and dancers who don’t have jazz backgrounds but are receptive to improvising. Rogers, an Englishman who’s been based in France for many years, favors custom-built instruments with up to 14 extra strings, which add resonance to his boldly bowed melodies. Hatwich, on the other hand, could be called a bass fundamentalist: a stalwart member of Chicago’s jazz scene, he can be relied upon to locate and solidify the rhythmic center of gravity of any piece of music. Sugimoto, who’s also based in Chicago, has adapted Japanese folk themes to jazz with the group Hanami, and the compositions on her recent album Born/Raised (Asian Improv) offer a more laconic take on the exuberant freebop played by Ornette Coleman’s classic quartet. Between them, the four musicians are performing at a total of 18 events (including three out of town, in Madison, Urbana, and Milwaukee) between October 31 and November 15, among them solo concerts, encounters with other improvisers, and a public recording session.   v