SUNDAY

Finding inspiration in Miles Davis’ early-’70s rock-jazz isn’t hard: His abstruse mixture of Sly Stone, Jimi Hendrix, and Karlheinz Stockhausen is simultaneously forceful, funky, abstract, and intellectual. The Chicago quintet Isotope 217 takes up where Davis left off, carrying on the trumpet great’s ideas like pupils who have internalized their teacher’s message and are now ready to expand on them. The band’s second full-length CD, Utonian Automatic, is a slightly less funky affair than its debut, The Unstable Molecule, but it’s also more raucous and far-reaching. Opener “LUH” is an almost 10-minute summation of Isotope 217 strengths: funk, improvisation, and ambience. The piece begins like an update of Davis’ “Black Satin”: Clipped blasts of organ dart between the lively dual pounding of drummers John Herndon and Dan Bitney as bassist Matt Lux sprints up and down his frets and guitarist Jeff Parker runs his instrument through long, bizarre melodies. But “LUH” then fades into an ambient exploration along the lines of Davis’ “He Loved Him Madly” (with cornetist Rob Mazurek supplying a quiet melody) before it picks up again as a midtempo groover. Were he still here, the Prince of Darkness might growl his approval for such an impressive display of beauty and power—or, the legendary crank might just claim Isotope 217 is bitin’ his shit. Decide for yourself when Isotope 217 plays with the Eternals at 10 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3, at the Metro Cafe, 1522 14th St. NW. $8. (202) 518-7900. (Christopher Porter)