Get local news delivered straight to your phone

FEBRUARY 28

Support City Paper!

$
$
$

Your contribution is appreciated.

The above photo is the only rigid thing about Mark Helias, one of the jazz scene’s most fluid bassists. As with many of his underground contemporaries, eclecticism is the rule rather than the exception, and saying that Helias is a jazz bassist alone doesn’t do him justice. From his position as soloist in Anthony Davis’ opera X, the Life and Times of Malcolm X and his score for the film The Pagan Book of Arthur Rimbaud to his 17-year association with legendary drummer Ed Blackwell and various groups such as Attack the Future or the Grid, Helias is drawn to music, period. The band Helias is bringing to town is dubbed Open/Loose, and its new record Come Ahead Back features tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin and drummer Tom Rainey. Like all of Helias’ work, the CD is colored by a wide gradient of compositions, from the darker, ECMlike chamber jazz of “The Other Brother” to the lighter, aptly named “Boppo.” It’s the rare record that will appeal equally to experimentalists who like some structure and mainstreamists who like some freedom. With that demographic range, Helias shouldn’t be underground for long. Join Helias, Eskelin, and Rainey at 8 p.m. Saturday at University of the District of Columbia Recital Hall, 4200 Connecticut Ave. NW. $10. (202) 274-5803. (Christopher Porter)