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In the Music Spotlight: Goran Ivanovic Trio

Goran Ivanovic | Photo by Saverio Truglia

BY JEFF ELBEL | FOR THE SUN-TIMES

Chicago-based guitarist Goran Ivanovic has shared the stage with boundary-pushing local artists including current Claudettes’ drummer Michael Caskey in the pair’s former group Eastern Blok, as well as classical and jazz master Fareed Haque and renowned cellist Ian Maksin. The Croatian native’s stirring style incorporates jazz, traditional Balkan, flamenco and classical styles.

Ivanovic’s rich discography is often signified by “Seven Boats,” a powerful collaboration with Haque released in 2004 that made a strong impression with its unusual fusion of classical, jazz and world music influences. The title track was reprised on an eponymous 2005 release by the Goran Ivanovic Group. Other key collaborations included 2009’s duo album with innovative Greek-American Chicago-based fingerstyle guitarist Andreas Kapsalis.

Currently, Ivanovic is celebrating the debut release by his Goran Ivanovic Trio with bassist Matt Ulery and drummer Pete Tashjian. The trio are recognized for their individual virtuosity, but they show particular excellence as a unit able to stop on a dime and twist gracefully through the trickiest hairpin turns together on local stages including those at City Winery and the Whistler. The trio’s upcoming show is a return visit to Jazz Showcase.

The trio’s new album features concert highlights like the spirited roots-music influence of “Alvorada Americana,” in which Ivanovic tumbles through lilting arpeggios and chiming harmonics on his nylon-string guitar before the rhythm joins him in crashing acoustic rock. The moody and haunting “Patient Zero” creates a disquieted but compelling mood. “Querido Paco” pays homage to flamenco giant Paco De Lucia.

Maksin joins the trio for the undulating “Maurice’s Ragtime,” a beautifully impressionistic piece honoring French composer Maurice Ravel with its intoxicating and sublime atmosphere. If it’s not in the set list at Jazz Showcase when Maksin shares the bill with Ivanovic, patrons should demand it as an encore.

* Goran Ivanovic Trio, with Ian Maksin, 8 p.m. Mar. 15, Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Court, $5-$10; jazzshowcase.com.

Jeff Elbel is a local freelance writer.