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Various Artists, Chicago's Avant Today (Delmark)
The appeal of post-bop is about as easy to explain to the uninitiated as astral traveling, but this should help. Rightfully asserting that Chicago is the center of the current free/action/avant jazz spider web, Delmark has put together a top-notch sampler of the city's progeny, from marathon men like ex-AACMer Malachi Thompson to youngbloods Rob Mazurek and Jeff Parker. The whole is an admirable balance of accessibility and expression, from Ken Vandermark's tightened wax-comb sax attack to Kahil El'Zabar's melodic and groovy "Truth in Mind". If there's an indie rocker in your life who needs a breath of fresh air, or a hip-hopper who's outgrowing that throwback, this would make a great entrée to today's music for grown-ups -- as well as a library addition that'll keep them coming back.