The Thanksgiving Day Parade, the tree-lighting ceremony and a few performances by the DKV Trio is all a Chicagoan needs to mark the holiday season. The reputable threesome—Hamid Drake, Kent Kessler and Ken Vandermark—have hosted homecoming shows around this time of year for a few years running with remarkable results. In 2012 the group spoiled its audience with “Past Present,” a seven-CD box set full of new material culled from gigs in places as far-flung as Sant’Anna Arresi, Sardinia, though much of the set documents the troupe’s seasonal outings in Chicago and Milwaukee. The worth of the recordings is incalculable; contained within are cutting-edge contemporary expressions of post-sixties jazz streamlined through MacArthur Genius Ken Vandermark’s saxophone experimentations. The melodic sensibilities and playful precision of John Coltrane? The throaty delivery of Archie Shepp? The strained squall of Albert Ayler and Peter Brötzmann? Check, check, check. Add to the mix an occasional foray into Duke Ellington’s swing stylings, and the brilliant elasticity of Vandermark’s unparalleled control is in full effect. Often the tunes begin with free-form abstractions that only align when Vandermark hits a perfectly placed three-note run. His initials may be listed last in the DKV Trio, but make no mistake, this group is guided by his laser focus, as spontaneous as it is studied. Hamid Drake and Kent Kessler are no slouches, either. Drake keeps himself in check on drums, trading in freewheeling ferocity for thoughtfully attuned grooves which he potently arranges amidst Kessler’s beautiful bass playing. Together they anchor a trio expertly honed in on the essence of experimentation. The no-fuss take on Don Cherry’s recorded legacy caps the “Past Present” box set, proof of the group’s long-standing commitment to limitless possibilities. That they return to the city each year to remind its citizens of their capacity for the same makes attendance at this show mandatory for any Chicago music fan. (Kenneth Preski)
December 17 and 18 at The Hideout, 1354 West Wabansia, (773)227-4433. 10pm. $15. 21+.