Trio Non Grata at Universal Bar & Grill, May 12.


Peripatetic young fusioneers play wherever they can. Tonight it's an old-fashioned Valley dive with a few red lights, a painting of Mae West above the bar, and a busty barmaid with tattoos and magenta hair who calls everybody "Hon." The barstools and a few tables get semipopulated as Trio Non Grata crank improbable drinkin' music.

The covers: Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" sports a quick walk, a McLaughlinesque rip-it-up guitar solo, a lazy waltz cooldown and a spirit of beautiful generosity. King Crimson's pretty "One Time" grooves darkly and drops from loud to quiet.

That spirit of dynamics carries over into Trio Non Grata's originals. Stubbled and sporting an Andy Capp lid, guitarist Jonathan Heuer spiels with fluidity and fire, but he also sticks in a lot of catchy arpeggios and clever complementary fantasies, even a touch of Elizabethan lilt ("Smile on the Face Preceding a Punch in the Face"). Cochise-haired Mike Talanca digs into the meat on his sawed-off five-string bass. Altar-boy drummer Ryan Janke's face mutates through every phase of saintly torture and ecstasy as he slops spacewise, stops on the proverbial dime and picks up a shaker for the meditative moment. They ain't show-offs, but when it comes to the obligatory oddball time signature of "Mathemagician," you go 'head and count it, I can't.

Trio Non Grata are an easygoing bunch, just here to stretch your imagination and make your day. They're grata in my ears anytime. I only hope for an occasion when they can twist the volume knobs and shiver my liver.

There's a good sampling of Trio Non Grata's music here.