Jordan Baskin is a pianist with a big postbop appetite and the chops to gobble up the music of his heroes in lively and convincing fashion. With his ability to reside in the mainstream without sacrificing his own individual voice, he has a way of recalling the classic bop-fed Chicago sound popularized decades ago by such nightclub regulars as Eddie Higgins and Larry Novak.
Pianist Bob Dogan may have studied with Boston legend Jaki Byard, but he is Chicago through and through. If you didn't know he grew up on the South Side, near 63rd and Cottage Grove, you'll soon be apprised of that by his fluent, bop-schooled style – influenced, as it would have had to have been, by Ahmad Jamal, whom Dogan heard perform at the Pershing Ballroom.
She's way too young to be a grand dame, but in terms of style and sophistication, Elaine Dame is very much a singer worth attending to. In an era in which it has become harder and harder for female jazz singers to stand out from the pack, she does so effortlessly, with the kind of easygoing confidence that allows the songs to draw attention to themselves and the singer to enjoy
Like the Memphis Horns and the Muscle Shoals horns in the South, Bill McFarland and the Chicago Horns have been the first-call brass section in Chicago. Formed a quarter century ago, they have performed and recorded with such soul greats as Otis Clay, blues greats including Son Seals and Lonnie Brooks and jazz greats including Malachi Thompson.
Can his recent album, Hair Dryers, really be Ryan Shultz' first as a leader? He has been such an important part of the Chicago scene for so long, leading his own groups and teaming up with such stalwart players as Damon Short and Bob Dogan, you would think he would have gotten a serious chunk of his own spotlight by now.
As a former collaborator of Miles Davis, pianist Robert Irving III – a/k/a Baabe – could have pursued a career outside of Chicago. But following in the footsteps of devoted homeboys like Von Freeman and Fred Anderson, he has remained in the Windy City, taking care of family, pursuing his own ambitious projects (not least Sketches of Brazil, his large-scale tribute to Miles) and assuming an inspiring, Art Blakey-like role in developing young talent.
Though Steve and Iqua Colson moved from Chicago to his home state of New Jersey in 1982, they have permanent keys to the Windy City thanks to their enduring contributions they made here, in and out of the AACM – Steve as a pianist, composer and bandleader and Iqua (a product of Kenwood High School), as a singer, arts administrator and trailblazer for female artists.
If ever there were a "self-made" star, it's Jeff Parker. Operating in a hype-free, soft-spoken zone, without indulging in commercial album concepts or seeming to care much about career advancement, he has risen to the top ranks of guitarists.
With her all-female sextet, Maqueque, whose self-titled debut recently won a Juno (the Canadian Grammy) for best group jazz album of the year, she's breaking new ground yet again. The name of the group means "the energy of a young girl's spirit," and with four of its members still in their early twenties, this is a band with energy to spare.
A child of the century, she is as likely to cover Michael Jackson as Cole Porter, or to segue from an original tune in French to "Night in Tunisia." And as perky as she can be (the title of her major label debut is It's a Good Day), she can toughen her sound in service of the blues, with which she is incandescently at ease.
One of the most notable headliners of the 37th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival is a very special reunion of pianist and composer Muhal Richard Abrams’ Experimental Band, the band that is commonly thought of as one of the first, if not the first, A.A.C.M. ensembles.
Jay Pritzker Pavillion
Preston Bradley Hall
Jazz on Jackson
Jazz and Heritage Stage
The Chicago Community Trust Young Jazz Lions Stage