Also on Friday, avant-garde woodwind player and Art Ensemble of Chicago member Roscoe Mitchell, now 72 years old, performs with his quartet. Mitchell is known for his circular breathing technique. The late Rahsaan Roland Kirk introduced the skill -- which allows a musician to play his or her wind instrument via a continuous and uninterrupted stream of air -- to jazz in the '60s. During a June 2004 gig at the now-defunct Chicago South Loop club HotHouse, we saw Mitchell play a clarinet, without pausing for a through-the-mouth breath, for what had to be 12 minutes straight. It was completely insane.
But the technique is more than just a gimmick, much more. "For me, it's a tool that lets me extend sonic scenarios even much further," says Mitchell, who adds that it took him about a year to learn how to circle-breathe. "If I can do it continuously and if I want to create really long lines that go on and on and on, I can do that. It's a constant learning process. Sometimes I'll look back at things that I did a long time ago, and now that I can circle-breathe, I can do those in different ways."
Mitchell, in Houston for a short residency with Nameless Sound, performs alongside trumpeter Hugh Ragin, bassist Jaribu -Shahid and drummer Tani Tabbal at 8 p.m. Eldorado Ballroom, 2310 Elgin. For information, visit the Nameless Sound website or call 713‑928‑5653. $10 to $13.
The term "staged concert" doesn't quite cover what you'll see at Selkie, a sea tale, by Misha Penton and Divergence Vocal Theater, which runs Friday and Saturday. It's actually a multimedia music/dance/video sensory experiment with as little separating the performers and viewers as possible. "I don't like the word 'audience,'" says singer/performer/writer Penton. "It seems so us-versus-them. Instead, I like the idea of creating a space where people can come together and share an experience. We have fewer and fewer opportunities in the modern world to come to-gether, face to face, and experience things. That makes this sort of [performance] all the more special."
Penton first performed Selkie, a chamber opera based on her poetry with a haunting score composed by Elliot Cole, in 2010. Now she's recorded a CD and produced a music video based on the project. ("Who doesn't want to make a music video?" Penton laughs.) Selkie is a collection of songs loosely based on the mythology of half-human/half-seal creatures that live in the Icelandic waters and sometimes come onto land to fall in love with humans. While connected, the songs don't tell a linear story. "It's more evocative than a concrete story," says Penton.
Experience Selkie, a sea tale at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 4411 Montrose. For information, visit the Divergence Vocal Theater website or call 832-590-0467. $20.