MONDAY

If not for the recent critical and commercial reappraisal of fusion, Chicago Underground Duo’ s ex-hard bopper Rob Mazurek (who has also played with Isotope 217) might still be slinging refried Lee Morgan licks in Windy City juke joints. Despite purists’ cries of betrayal in the seventies, early electric-jazz long-players like Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, Herbie Hancock’s Sextant, and Tony Williams & Lifetime’s Emergency are pretty damn brilliant. And those folks in Chicago know it. Granted, fusion quickly descended into huge piles of cheese after its early heights, but Mazurek (cornet and electronics) and partner Chad Taylor (percussion and vibraphone) attempt to re-imagine the golden days of pluralism before the lame sellout. Mazurek and Taylor conjure a revisionist history (with a big hard-on for the Art Ensemble of Chicago’s multi-culti vibe and pointillistic attention to detail) in which modern jazz is spruced up with a fresh coat of post-four-on-the-floor electronic abstraction. Sometimes the Duo’ s latest, Synesthesia, relies too much on lightweight knob-twisting, resulting in some yawn-inducing sonic wallpaper. But when these two are really one—i.e., when they’ re leaning heavy on the jazz side—they make a critical and ignored connection between tantric fusion jams and minimalist free improvisation. At 10 p.m. Monday, Aug. 28, at the Metro Cafe, 1522 14th St. NW. $8. (202) 588-9118. (Brent Burton)