The Engines

This enterprising ensemble has been offering a stylistically free-ranging music for nearly a decade, but this weekend's engagement stands out. The Engines will be kicking off a North American tour with a two-night run at the Green Mill Jazz Club, which has become an increasingly visible platform for Chicago experimenters. This time, the Engines will be celebrating an important new release, "Other Violets," recorded live at the Hungry Brain on May 15, 2011. Of particular note: The guest that night was the much-admired saxophonist John Tchicai, whose questing, soft-spoken playing represented a singular voice in new music. As Engines saxophonist Dave Rempis observes on the album's liner notes, "The expressive strength of John's sound endures - the tender, searching, bittersweet yet playful lilt of his phrasing; the tart crispness of his tone; the meandering yet purposeful sense of pitch. All of these were a part of the vision that enabled him to stand up to the sheer force of players like (John) Coltrane, (Albert) Ayler, and (Archie) Shepp; not by out-muscling them, but by presenting a completely different idea of what was possible on the instrument." Tchicai died in October in France, at age 76, making this engagement as much a celebration of Tchicai's contributions as the Engines' document of his collaboration with the Chicago musicians. Rempis will be joined by trombonist Jeb Bishop, drummer Tim Daisy and bassist Kent Kessler (sitting in for bassist Nate McBride). 9 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Green Mill Jazz Club, 4802 N. Broadway; $12; 773-878-5552 or
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