Avant-garde Edgefest draws national names

saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell at the Pomigliano ...
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The Detroit Free Press previews this weekend’s Edgefest.

Leading the way is the 13th annual Edgefest, the Ann Arbor-based festival of avant-garde jazz produced by the Kerrytown Concert House. With about 20 performances spread over four days and a lineup deep with national figures, Edgefest is one of the country’s premier showcases of left-of-center improvised music and an indispensible gift of local musical life.

The 2009 theme, “Reeds of Change,” promises a heavy dose of saxophonists and other reed players. Highlights include:

• Gravitas Quartet: An intriguing group with pianist Wayne Horvitz, trumpeter Ron Miles, bassoonist Sara Schoenbeck and cellist Peggy Lee. 8 p.m. Friday.

• 4 Altos: A saxophone quartet with four compelling improvisers — Marty Ehrlich, Ned Rothenberg, Michael Attias and Andrew Laster. 10 p.m. Friday.

• Yuganaut with Roscoe Mitchell: A collectivist trio welcomes Mitchell, a titanic figure in the history of free jazz and a poet of sound and silence. 4 p.m. Saturday.

• Brad Shepik’s “Human Activity Suite”: The drummer and composer presents a new extended composition responding to climate change. With Ralph Alessi, Gary Versace, Drew Gress and Tom Rainey. 7 p.m. Saturday.

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