Improvisation is the guiding light for Open Secret: The Rumi Concert at the Lensic Performing Arts Center. Dancer Zuleikha, drummer Glen Velez, and vocalist and guitarist Jai Uttal perform to poet Coleman Barks’ reading of lines by the 13th-century Persian mystic poet Jalaluddin Rumi on Saturday, Nov. 14. “Coleman has some ideas about the kinds of textures and flavors he wants in a very general way, but then it’s up to us to be very reactive to the way he’s reading,” Velez told Pasatiempo. “Coleman really is a musician himself — the way he reads and the way he explores repetition and the rhythm and melody of the words. There’s a lot of interactive quality to it: We respond to him and he responds to us.”

Velez masterfully plays and collects one of the world’s most basic musical instruments: the frame drum. “I have many different types,” he said, “and what I’ve been doing is studying the different ways of playing and then creating my own hybrid style that is influenced by Arabic and Persian and South Indian styles, music from places where the frame drum is popular and where they have very intense ways of playing it.”

The drummer, a Texan of Mexican origin, played frame drum from an early age and studied its use and origins worldwide. As a teenager, he was interested in the role of percussion instruments in jazz, but then found himself paying more and more attention to classical percussion. Ultimately, his growing predilection for spontaneous composition took him away from Western classical music. From 1983 to 1998, he was a member of the Paul Winter Consort. He has also worked over the years with singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega, Indian tabla player Zakir Hussain, and composer Steve Reich.