Fans of improvised music have two prime opportunities ahead this week.
On campus Wednesday, trombonist Marshall Gilkes will make the first entry in the University of Montana's Jazz Artist Series.
Gilkes, a dynamic and fluid soloist on a demanding instrument, had a banner year in 2015. He shared one Grammy Award for his work on "The Thompson Fields," a record by Maria Schneider Orchestra, considered by many to be the best big band working today. On the composer half of his resume, that same year he was nominated for best large jazz ensemble album for "Köln," a solo album recorded with the WDR Big Band, and best instrumental composition for one its tunes, "Vesper."
A review on AllAboutJazz.com noted the Gilkes' technical ability as well as his accessible writing: "Several (tunes) combine aggressive post-bop lines with classically inflected, almost Aaron Copland-esque melodies that occasionally have a gospel-like grandeur." (Fans of both David Bowie and jazz should note that Gilkes' solo album "Sound Stories" featured Donny McCaslin, the saxophonist who contributed to the rock legend's final album, "Black Star.")
In Missoula, Gilkes will play in a quartet format, backed by Jon Cowherd on piano, Matt Clohsey on bass and Mark Whitefield Jr. on drums.
Gilkes and company will perform at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20, at the UM Music Recital Hall in the Music Building. Tickets are $25 general, $15 for seniors and $10 for students.
On Sunday, the Lakebottom Sound Series will have its second entry, featuring artists whose work is tricky to classify.
Los Angeles-based trumpeter Dan Clucas; lap-steel slide guitarist Scot Ray; and Missoula cellist Jessica Catron.
Clucas and Ray have played together for years in the L.A. jazz/creative music scene, including gigs with Wilco guitarist Nels Cline and bassist/composer Stuart Liebig. Catron, too, played in L.A. for years in a variety of styles and gigs, including Cline and more rock-based groups like Devotchka or the Eels.
The series was initiated by trombonist and composer Naomi Moon Siegel, a recent Missoula transplant. She envisioned it as a way to connection musicians and listeners in intimate venues, and present new music that requires careful listening.
Doors open at 7:30 p.m. at Shakespeare and Co., 103 S. Third St. W., and the music starts at 8. Tickets are $15, available at Ear Candy or lakebottomsound.org. The show is BYOB.