Get up and out for some hot avant jazz

Community Music Center
3350 S.E. Francis
Friday 8 p.m.
$12 students
$14 general
all ages

There just hasn’t been enough avant-garde jazz lately. Or maybe the progressive improvisations taking place here in Rosy-town have been so far out, they’re inaudible. Silence, now that’s avant-garde.

Even if there has been some progressive jazz going on in a dark basement near you, this Friday’s appearance of Chicago’s Tri-Factor shouldn’t disappoint. In fact, if you’re a jazz fan, it should have quite the opposite effect. It should please you, make you happy, that sort of thing.

Fronted by percussionist (a good sign, no?) Kahil El’Zabar, Tri-Factor will include the violin sounds of Billy Bang and woodwinds by Hamiet Bluiett. This trio has many accomplishments under their belts. Their diverse backgrounds and talents should make for a unique sound mix and quality improvisations that will do something other than disappoint you.

Kahil El’Zabar studied percussion in Ghana and in some of America’s finest institutions. He specializes in a diverse arsenal of percussion instruments – from gongs to bongos. He’s backed a diverse personnel of artists – from Paul Simon to Dizzy Gillespie. To top it off, he’s been creating great sounds long enough to be commissioned by a German festival to present a 20-year retrospective of his work.

Violinist Billy Bang, a long time collaborator of El’Zabar’s, has quite a story. He studied violin as a youngster, then abandoned it for percussion. He was drafted into Vietnam and upon returning became an anti-war activist. He has performed with many greats like Sun Ra and Don Cherry and is known for his unique style. His own music in the various groups he has formed is said to range from early jazz to fresh avant-garde.

Woodwind artist Hamiet Bluiett should keep up and add much to this trio. He too possesses a diverse background of training and experience. He moved to New York in 1969 and found his way into the African music-influenced ensemble of Babatunde Olatunji and eventually into the Charles Mingus quintet in 1972. He helped start the World Saxophone Quartet and the group BAG (Black Artists Group), a St. Louis equivalent of the AACM (Association of the Advancement of Creative Music) school that provided training for rhythmatist El’Zabar.

These three accomplished musicians have played together in Tri-Factor off and on for years. They’ve released two albums and performed many concerts together. If you’re a jazz fan, you probably know exactly what to expect and are likely planning on going. For others feeling adventuresome, expect to hear a colorful palette of improvised sounds coming from these three old-school players. Expect to witness interaction and hear a mix that isn’t commonplace.

A 1999 review of a Chicago performance said this trio’s show is very upbeat. El’Zabar was said to be most impressive for his ability to push soloists on with everything from a loud backbeat to a Kalimba melody. Bluiett held down the low end by playing mostly Baritone while Bang worked the violin with smooth intensity. Hopefully the Portland sets will be as good, if not better.

Tri-Factor’s performance is being presented by Portland’s Creative Music Guild and is taking place at the Community Music Center on 3350 S.E. Francis St. The show begins at 8 p.m. and will cost $12 for students and CMG members and $14 for the general public. Tickets are available at the door and all ages are welcome. For more information call 503-772-0772.