Hideout; Wed 15
Some of the best working musicians are often hidden in the woodwork, anchoring the rhythm section of a marquee name. You’ll find Josh Abrams casting a shadow against the projection screen in the back of Wicker Park bar rodan on Tuesdays, plucking an upright bass flanked by fellas from Tortoise. The low-key jam remains one of Chicago’s most reliable jazz weeklies. If Abrams isn’t on hand, that usually means he’s playing behind someone else, be it glitch-monger Prefuse 73 or Americana enigma Bonnie “Prince” Billy. At 37, Abrams is already a journeyman.
The former Philadelphian first appeared on the Roots’ 1993 debut, Organix, and since has been featured on dozens of diverse releases. As a leader, Abrams’s albums lean toward the meditative. Recent releases show off his sampler skills and DJ strengths yet retain an introverted aesthetic.
On his latest, Natural Information, the scene standby gives us something more in line with his avant-garde experiments as a member of Town and Country, as well as that group’s drone descendent, DRMWPN. It’s the first of his solo efforts to showcase his growing body of work on the guimbri: an African lute-like instrument tuned low like a bass. Loping grooves recall the loose, undulating cycle of West African praise songs minus the griot.
The hypnotic, harmonium-driven pulse of “Abide in Sunset” plies African grooves in an expansive psych-folk improvisation, coursing with the spidery guitarwork of Emmett Kelly and colorful textures of drummer Frank Rosaly. Both sit in with Abrams tonight, along with voracious vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz.