As singer and leader Mankwe Ndosi has written of her group, “Corylus works from membranes of story, sensation, environment, and movement to root and fuel the music.” Improvisation and storytelling merge seamlessly and soulfully. She’s joined by the master Chicago reedist Edward Wilkerson Jr. (who also plays some oud in this project), bassist Darius Savage, and Detroit percussionist JoVia Armstrong, who recently played at the inaugural Chicago String Jazz Summit with her dynamic group Musique Noire.
Chicagoan Larry Gray has been holding groups together for decades, serving as the city’s first-call bassist for visiting heavies—he’s practically a fixture at the Jazz Showcase, playing with a virtual roll call of jazz greats—and quietly leading his own elegant projects with an impressive mixture of muscle and grace.
The Education Committee of the Jazz Institute of Chicago (JIC) Presents: “What is this thing called “JAZZ?” Developed to offer an insider’s view of the intricacies of jazz performance. This inaugural series begins with a presentation by Committee Member, Grammy Award-Winning Percussionist, Paul Wertico.
Hinda Hoffman is a student of jazz standards, respecting and understanding melody and rhythm, suggesting a modern day Rosemary Clooney. She doesn’t toy around too much with words and lines: she sings the American songbook with precision, a sharp sense of time, and deep affection, like a first language.
Bassist Beau Sample assembled this group in 2010 to play a spirited take on the brisk traditional jazz of the 20s and 30s—its repertoire includes the music of Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, and Bix Beiderbecke among others—but few expected that the band would catch on with an audience born some six decades after the music’s heyday ended. The band’s weekly engagements at Honky Tonk BBQ in Pilsen and the illustrious Green Mill in Uptown have become two of Chicago’s hottest engagements; every week the dance floors in each spot are put to good use.
Bassist Harrison Bankhead has been a keystone of the Chicago jazz community for more than three decades, a deeply soulful and adventurous musician who’s anchored groups led by Edward Wilkerson, Malachi Thompson, Fred Anderson, and Ernest Dawkins among many others. Despite his ubiquity in area clubs and concert halls as well as on recordings the Waukegan native had never released an album under his own leadership until 2010.
One of the last remaining links to the bebop era, pianist Randy Weston is a true giant of the jazz world—and not just because he stands 6’8” tall. His fiercely rhythmic music, driven by his propulsive left hand figures, is always special, and as rare as his Chicago appearances have been in recent years, solo concerts are even less common.
This combo presents Chicago jazz both muscular and freewheeling, with a degree of intuition and rapport that requires years of hard work, yet despite the shared histories of Drake, Bankhead, and Dawkins, the trio convenes rarely.
Chicago native, drummer, composer and recent NEA Jazz Master Jack DeJohnette is duly famous for some remarkably fruitful associations over the years—working under the leadership of legends like reedist Charles Lloyd (who headlines the Pritzker Pavilion on Friday), trumpeter Miles Davis, and, most enduringly, pianist Keith Jarrett. He’s also released more than thirty albums as a leader during his vaunted career, but few players of DeJohnette’s caliber have remained so committed to an ensemble-oriented aesthetic.
Jay Pritzker Pavillion
Preston Bradley Hall
Jazz on Jackson
Jazz and Heritage Stage
The Chicago Community Trust Young Jazz Lions Stage