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Herculaneum

Herculaneum

Friday, January 6

What do the words prosecco, Italian ice, and Venice beach grass have in common? Other than their Italian-made themes, these are the song titles of Chicago based prog-jazz band Herculaneum (also the name of an ancient Italian city lost to the same volcanic eruption that consumed Pompeii). The term “prog-jazz,” a term this newly heralded six-piece uses to describe their own music, might seem a little intimidating at first but when you take into account their fantastically blithe song titles (like “Twin Unicorns”) and their bohemian grad-school-dude looks, their serious improvisational jazz sound takes on a more accessible feel. The group, led by Icy Demons drummer Dylan Ryan, takes up-tempo, horn blaring queues from classics like Miles Davis’ “Spanish Key” on tracks like the aforementioned “Twin Unicorns” and props them up next to mysterious and lilting, Tortoise-esque jams like “Golden Monarch.” The result is an atmospheric combination of spectacular rhythmic highs and dark, caustic lows that strike a balance between fluid improvisation and just the right amount of discordant intensity. Accompanying the rhythm section of Ryan and upright bassist Greg Danek is a team of horn players, led by trumpeter Nick Broste, who paint colorful melodies over their mellow afro-beat grooves. Herculaneum will play a special live show this Friday (Jan 6) at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center with Buffalo’s Bear Flames as part of the center’s Winter 2012 concert series. —cory perla

8pm. Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center, 341 Delaware Ave. (854-1694 / hallwalls.org). $12 general, $10 students/seniors, $8 members.