Saxophonist Patrick Shiroishi brings his shape-shifting sound to Chicago for the first time

Identity, versatility, and productivity intertwine in the music of Patrick Shiroishi. Best known as an alto saxophonist, the Los Angeles-based musician plays five different saxophones, guitar, and keyboards. His ever-growing discography includes 65 album-length releases with his name on the cover, and that number balloons to more than 100 if you count records where he’s a sideman or band member. 

Shiroishi’s approach varies according to context. He’s waxed smooth with the ambient-oriented virtual ensemble Fuubutsushi; played convoluted, stentorian prog with Oort Smog; wielded scything feedback opening for experimental metal outfit Sumac; engaged in hard-edged, fleet-footed free improvisation with the likes of Jessica Ackerley, Thom Nguyen, Kyle Motl, or Vinny Golia; and explored delicate acoustic timbres on Yellow (Dinzu Artifacts),a superb new LP with kotoist Kozue Matsumoto and shakuhachi player Shoshi Watanabe. 

While no less diverse, his solo recordings are more personal. I Shouldn’t Have to Worry When My Parents Go Outside (Distant Bloom, 2021) uses poetic recitations and elegiac piano-and-synth sketches to grieve the corrosive influence of racism. Hidemi (American Dreams, 2021) expresses the resilience and transcendence he found in his grandfather’s life story with intricate ensembles of overdubbed saxophones. Shiroishi will play in typically diverse settings during his first visit to Chicago. For his local debut on Thursday, he’ll improvise with three local musicians whose collective experiences include performance art and free jazz: saxophonist Mai Sugimoto, cellist Lia Kohl, and drummer Avreeayl Ra. The next night, he’ll play with violinist and vocalist Macie Stewart as part of the one-year anniversary celebration for the Pleiades Series, whose concerts seek to create welcoming opportunities for femme and nonbinary artists to improvise. And on Friday, November 4, Shiroishi will play in Jordan Reyes’s ensemble Ark of Teeth to celebrate the release of Reyes’s LP Everything Is Always (American Dreams).

Patrick Shiroishi Shiroishi improvises in a quartet with Mai Sugimoto, Lia Kohl, and Avreeayl Ra. Thu 10/27, 8:30 PM, Elastic Arts, 3429 W. Diversey #208, $15, all ages

Patrick Shiroishi Shiroshi performs an improvised duo with Macie Stewart as part of the one-year anniversary of the Pleiades Series, which also includes a set from Robbie Lynn Hunsinger and an open jam session. Fri 10/28, 8:30 PM, Elastic Arts, 3429 W. Diversey #208, $15, all ages

Jordan Reyes’s Ark of Teeth Reyes leads an ensemble that includes Travis, Ambre Sala, Patrick Shiroishi, and Eli Winter. Fri 11/4, 7:30 PM, International Museum of Surgical Science, 1524 N. Lake Shore, $22, 18+

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