Old Town School of Folk Music is hosting the Allos Musica quartet on one of its upcoming World Music Wednesdays. Which is a bit of a cheat, because the group is made up entirely of local boys. Its prevailing genius, in fact, is James Falzone, who’s so active in Chicago jazz, classical and early music circles that you can’t swing a dead cat without clipping his clarinet. Yet while Allos Musica doesn’t have to hop an ocean to get here, the inspiration they carry onstage with them has a pretty extensive global pedigree. Besides Falzone, the group boasts Ronnie Malley on oud and harmonium (he occasionally sings as well), Jeremiah McLane on accordion and Tim Mulvenna on hand drums and percussion; and when they sit down together and launch into a tune, the time zones drop away—the centuries, too. Their repertoire is highly distinctive; there are shimmeringly sinuous Arabic numbers, around which Falzone’s clarinet circles like smoke rings; but there’s French music, as well—maybe not as strange a pairing as it first appears, given the history of French colonialism in places like Morocco and Senegal. So you have the phenomenon of Allos Musica taking a piece by the Romantic-era French composer Erik Satie—the first of his solo piano “Gnossiennes”—and by some alchemy turning it into a haunting evocation of the east. Yet Falzone’s original composition, “Breton Suite,” demonstrates that the players are equally adept at a more or less straight-up Celtic foot-stomper. Most of Falzone’s other works (which form the bulk of the group’s repertoire) occupy some parallel universe in which his various influences have synthesized into an entire idiosyncratic genre. Is it world music?… Well, if you count the world inside Falzone’s head, then yes, certainly. It seems to be a fairly expansive world, too, and its topography is flat-out spectacular. (Robert Rodi)
November 4 at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4545 North Lincoln, (773)728-6000, free.
Robert Rodi is an author, spoken-word performer and musician who has served as Newcity’s Music Editor since 2014. He’s written more than a dozen books, including the travel memoir “Seven Seasons In Siena.” His jazz quintet recently completed a two-year residency at Uncommon Ground, and he regularly hosts a jazz singers’ jam at Lizard’s Liquid Lounge. His literary and music criticism has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, Salon, The Huffington Post and many other national and regional publications.