The Muffins

SATURDAY

Hirsute guys in too-small pocket T-shirts, semi-unbuttoned Oxfords, and crotch-pinching flares: These are the Muffins, D.C.'s answer to Canterbury's celebrated '70s prog-rock scene. Saying the band bridged the gap between fusion jazz and progressive rock is probably redundant, since the genres themselves both attempt to bring jazz and rock together, but the Muffins used the latter's instrumentation--woodwinds, keyboards, bass, and drums (and the occasional crappy pawn-shop guitar)--and imbued them with the power of the former. The Muffins played dense discursive jams that sounded like Soft Machine jamming with Sun Ra. Henry Cow's Fred Frith championed the band, which began in 1973 and called it quits in 1981, by having it play on his Gravity album and producing its third album, 185 (reissued with seven bonus tracks a couple of years ago by Silver Spring-based label Cuneiform). The rise of disco and harDCore were partly to blame for the Muffins' demise, but the band reunited for a successful show at Chief Ike's last year and will host its second back-from-the-dead gig at the area's newest home for prog-rock, Phantasmagoria. Fellow prog-jazzers Vector open at 9 p.m. Saturday, July 17, at Phantasmagoria, 11319 Elkin St., Wheaton. $10. (301) 949-8886. (Christopher Porter)

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