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One of the coolest bands in the Triangle is also one of the largest. On any given night, the nonconformist Micro East Collective (pictured) includes, oh, 20 members. Or maybe more. Maybe less. The ensemble's credentials betray an omni-directional allegiance to jazz, rock and classical idioms. Yet MEC speaks other languages as well, those rare tongues that exist beyond easy labels of musical convenience.

As part of a meeting of astute improvisers, this week the band will workshop with a world-famous artist-in-residence, Frank Gratkowski, the well-traveled German saxophonist. A modernist with insider tendencies, Gratkowski is a flexible flyer. His resume is thick with big names and includes prime-time gigs with composer Muhal Richard Abrams and bassist Peter Kowald, another MEC collaborator.

A private house concert on Nov. 28 marks the first meeting between Gratkowski and selected MEC members, but the G meets MEC experience will culminate in a Nov. 29 public summit session at Cat's Cradle in Carrboro. Following a windy solo set by Gratkowski, who'll unveil various saxes and--just maybe--a bass clarinet, the saxophonist and collective will join forces to reveal works composed by band members Crowmeat Bob, David Jordan and Rich Robeson. Another Double Eye series program presented by AIM, the Alliance for Improvised Music, the fireworks light up at 8 p.m. For more info, click on, or --Joe Vanderford

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