TOWN AND COUNTRY, at Lee's Palace, July 19. Tickets: $7. Attendance: 40. Rating: NNN
Chicago chamber jazz quartet Town and Country leave very little to chance, and it shows.
For all their improv instincts and rampant instrument-switching -- guitar, bass, harmonium, celeste, trumpet, snare, bells and a couple of ceramic bowls were all deployed over the course of the night at Lee's Wednesday -- the foursome never threatened to slip out of control.
Their four-song, 40-minute set had a casual but firm rhythm to it. Josh Abrahms and Liz Payne would set up a loping, two-headed bass cycle, over which Ben Vida strummed his acoustic guitar and Jim Dorling squeezed out a harmonium drone. Then someone would switch places, creating a slight change in the subtle groove they had built up.
Not exactly eye-popping entertainment -- the club's dishwasher more than once threatened to drown them out -- but it was hypnotic. The group is clearly trying very hard, and it's working.
Sadly, you could not say the same about the opening improv duo, whose big finale was a duet between a guitarist and a man who appeared to be blowing occasionally on a blade of grass. You do the math.