For nearly two decades, Lurie's made this band a place for a few of downtown's finer players to shine in an evocative, lyrical environment. Lizards alums include singular guitarist Marc Ribot (who just signed to Atlantic) and founders of the cleverly goofy Jazz Passengers (saxophonist Roy Nathanson and trombonist Curtis Fowlkes). Because Lurie mixes up the jazz tradition -- from Dixieland to the avant-garde -- without regard to anyone's conventions but his own, the Lounge Lizards have barely been taken seriously by the American jazz establishment. Their albums are hard to find, often self-produced for obscure European labels. This stateside snub doesn't reflect the quality of the music, which is filmic but not necessarily dramatic. Lurie's writing can send the listener to a moody cabaret in sweltering New Orleans, the East Village, Chicago, or even Old World Europe. And it's not mere ambience -- it's best grooved to live.
-- Sam Prestianni
John Lurie & the Lounge Lizards perform Saturday, June 13, at 9 p.m. at the Fillmore, 1805 Geary (at Fillmore). Tickets are $25; call 775-7722.