The strength and beauty of a festival such as In the Flow is the depth and breadth of programming. For listeners interested in progressive improvised music, whether it's acoustic mainstream jazz or computer-generated electronic loops, there will be something here.
With more than 40 groups performing starting Wednesday, there are plenty of opportunities for happy surprises. For an intimate show experience, you can go to Bows & Arrows on Thursday night for a great experimental adventure. There's Luna's on Friday, or for total immersion, check out a few hours of either Antiquité show Saturday or next Sunday.
Ross Hammond, festival organizer, recommends the Seattle-based duo Bad Luck at Luna's on Friday.
"They're a saxophone-and-drums duo who do some electronics," Hammond said. "They're very intense, but at the same time very listenable. They're coming from a very hip scene in Seattle, which is really blowing up: a young movement of people who are kind of doing what we're doing here producing their own shows, doing house concerts, getting out there."
Hammond also said he looks forward to the set from the Lost Trio at Bows & Arrows on Thursday.
"They do jazz arrangements of stuff like P.J Harvey, Björk, Bob Dylan," Hammond said.
"They're a jazz trio, but they don't really play standards. They do their own thing but now they're gonna do a bunch of Monk, so I think that's really cool."
Here are some other picks for the festival.
Scott Amendola vs. Wil Blades
8 p.m. next Sunday at Antiquité Maison Privee
Percussionist Scott Amendola and Hammond B3 organist Wil Blades have formed one of those musical partnerships that seems limitless. Consider they started out performing Duke Ellington's "Far East Suite," a complex piece of composed music written for a big band. The duo has an open-minded approach to its live performances, which have many components, from swing to funk.
Cave Women 5
7 P.M. Thursday at Bows & Arrows
The all-female Sacramento-based quintet was essentially formed at California State University, Sacramento, where four of the members studied in the music department. Guitarist Alicyn Yaffee, bassist Casey Lipka and multi-instrumentalists Emily Messick and Kim Davis all sing and compose music for the band. They are joined by highly regarded percussionist Vanessa Cruz on music that moves from straight-ahead jazz and Brazilian sambas to alternative rock. "They're great improvisers but also really good singers, so they'll do four-part harmonies and jam over it," Hammond said.
8 p.m. Saturday at Antiquité Maison Privee
The legendary San Francisco trio was founded in 1991 by drummer Kevin Carnes, saxophonist David Boyce and bassist Ayman Mobarak. Bassist Kirk Peterson replaced Mobarak in 1994 and the band has thrived since. It has specialized in Space Age grooves and is dedicated to postmodern Afrocentric music. The Fellinis were initially grouped with the Bay Area's first wave of acid jazz bands but have long since left the genre, finding inspiration in all art forms from painting to film. Earlier this year the band released its ninth album, "Blam!!!"
Vinny Golia Sextet
6 p.m. next Sunday at Antiquité Maison Privee
The internationally known multi-woodwind performer has played around the world with leading avant- garde artists including Anthony Braxton and Patti Smith. A renowned jazz composer for large ensembles and distinctive soloist, Golia teaches at the California Institute of the Arts. In 2006 the Jazz Journalists Association honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Golia is also featured on Hammond's new record, "Adored."