This adventurous, shape-shifting sextet includes some of Chicago’s most incisive and fearless players, all of whom are truly citizens of the bold music making universe. Since the group formed in 2003 they’ve made three albums, each one under the compositional leadership of a different member.
One of Chicago’s most versatile and curious musicians, Juli Wood is not only fluent on soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones, she’s also a terrific singer. She’s been a key force on the local scene for more than 25 years, working alongside the likes of organist Mel Rhyne and pianists Earma Thompson and Ken Chaney, as well as playing in the all-female combo She.
Chicago’s Fareed Haque has spent much of career defying expectations of what the jazz guitarist is supposed to do and sound like. Recently, however, Haque has been tackling one of the most iconic and enduring contexts for his instrument, collaborating with Hammond B-3 whiz in a hard-hitting organ combo. He’s partnered with high-octane organist Tony Monaco from Columbus, Ohio, whose reserves of energy match the guitarist’s.
“Contemporary early jazz,” the phrase New Orleans clarinetist Evan Christopher uses to describe his music, sounds every bit like an oxymoron until you hear him at work. His buoyant, plush tone and slinky hothouse phrasing reveals stylistic links to some of the Crescent City’s first and best licorice stick masters—folks like Sidney Bechet, Barney Bigard, and Omar Simeon—but he’s no moldy fig revivalist.
Since forming in 1999 this explosive Scandinavian quintet has slowly but steadily made converts, on both sides of the Atlantic, to its thrilling, high-wire brand of post-bop. Their music plays thrilling formal experiments, as episodic tunes shift from heavily improvised passages to rigorously structured movements, splitting the difference between Art Blakey and a jacked-up Morton Feldman.
Veteran Latin jazz trombonist and bandleader Papo Vazquez delivered the best album of his long career last year with Oasis, a powerful and wide-ranging session that serves as model for the malleability of Puerto Rican music. At the turn of the century, Vazquez stepped out on his own to form Pirates Troubadours and he’s never looked back.
NEA Jazz Master, composer, saxophonist, and bandleader Jimmy Heath, “has been a connecting agent, bringing together branches of the jazz tradition,” writes Ben Ratliff of the New York Times, describing the musicians ability to bridge the divide and adapt from early bebop (he earned the nickname “Little Bird” thanks to his sonic similarities to Charlie Parker) to the post-bop machinations of legends like John Coltrane and Miles Davis.
Hamid Drake has been using the moniker Bindu as the name for a variety of focus-shifting lineups, but the one that released Reggaeology (Rogue Art) in 2010 might be the most rewarding of them. As the name suggests, the project allows Drake to merge his deep investment in reggae with his mastery of improvised music.
On his hit 2012 album Black Radio (Blue Note) pianist and Houston, Texas native Robert Glasper made explicit what was always bubbling away within his music: the heavy influence of hip-hop and contemporary R&B. And even though he leads his jazz-oriented quartet tonight with bassist Derrick Hodge, drummer Mark Colenburg, and saxophonist and vocalist Corey Benjamin, expect that the funk will still shine through clearly.
New Orleans alto saxophonist Donald Harrison reached has reached the largest audience of his career by playing himself on the acclaimed HBO series Treme. Few places embody the totality of American music like the Crescent City, and at 53 Harrison arguably represents that totality better than any living musician.
Jay Pritzker Pavillion
Preston Bradley Hall
Jazz on Jackson
Jazz and Heritage Stage
The Chicago Community Trust Young Jazz Lions Stage