Every year around Jazz Fest we (and no doubt the festival programming committee) lament the shrinking pool of jazz giants: the kind of players who attract broad audiences due to their historical importance, experience, and technical mastery. This year alone the world has lost Shirley Scott, Big John Patton, Ray Brown, Wilber Morris, Russ Freeman, and Roy Kral. What’s not often said is that the jazz audience is undoubtedly shrinking too, as fans who grew up along with the music grow older and fewer alongside their heroes.

Though the festival is free, attendance is obviously of concern to the Jazz Institute of Chicago, which books the talent. It has long been the opinion of some members of the committee that the annual live broadcast of the festival on WBEZ makes it too easy for listeners to tune in rather than drop by. This year the station has decided not to air the fest, citing financial reasons, although starting in January it will broadcast main-stage sets as part of Performance Space, a new weekly series. It remains to be seen whether their absence from the airwaves will actually drive people to Grant Park this weekend.

But as far as attracting new listeners goes, the programmers have taken only baby steps. While there are a few veteran members of the pioneering Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians on the schedule, the city’s current crop of internationally acclaimed avant-garde players is represented only in a couple of weekday concerts at the Chicago Cultural Center (on Michigan between Randolph and Washington), just one of which was actually booked by the fest committee. (To be fair, avant-garde poster boy Ken Vandermark has been asked to perform on the main stage for the past three years but he’s always had other commitments.)

The rest of Jazz Fest takes place, as usual, on three stages in Grant Park. The marquee performers each night, from Thursday, August 29, through Sunday, September 1, play at the Petrillo Music Shell at Jackson and Columbus. More intimate performances take place on weekend afternoons at the Jazz on Jackson stage, on Jackson near Lake Shore Drive. Kid-oriented concerts and lectures are programmed on weekend days at the Jazz & Heritage Family Stage, south of Jackson near the Rose Garden.

Thursday, August 29

Chicago Cultural Center

12:15 PM * Frankiphone and Silver Cycles: African-Americans and Electronic Music in Chicago With George Lewis, Phil Cohran, Roscoe Mitchell & Jeff Parker

Trombonist, composer, and educator George Lewis, who also headlines the final night of the festival at Petrillo, leads a discussion about the role Chicago African-Americans have played in the development of electronic music. The talk should cover (among many other things) the early synthesizer experiments of Sun Ra and AACM founder Muhal Richard Abrams, cornetist Phil Cohran’s amplified kalimba (the frankiphone of the program title), and saxophonist Eddie Harris’s work with electronics (including his 1968 album Silver Cycles). Following the discussion–in which Cohran and guitarist Jeff Parker, a member of the jazz- and electronic-influenced rock band Tortoise, will also participate–Lewis and saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell will perform Lewis’s “Voyager,” a fascinating piece in which live improvisers interact with a computer programmed to make unpredictable moves of its own. PM

4:30 PM * Uri Caine

Philadelphia native Uri Caine came up as a voracious mainstream player, but even early on he injected his own quirky personality into homages to Monk and Herbie Hancock. His aesthetic burst wide open when he started working with clarinetist Don Byron circa 1992, and he’s spent the past decade finding new ways of mixing jazz with other musical traditions. A series of albums for the German Winter & Winter label began with imaginative reworkings of Mahler, Bach, and Wagner, all models of efficiency and focus; as freewheeling as he gets with the ingredients, incorporating cantors and hip-hop DJs, the music never seems to lose its internal logic. More recently Caine’s made records celebrating Tin Pan Alley and exploring Brazilian music. And he remains a superb jazz pianist, heard most recently in Chicago playing Fender Rhodes with trumpeter Dave Douglas at HotHouse. For this concert he’ll perform solo, as on his recent album Solitaire–a recital that demonstrates his gorgeous lyricism and the way he’s absorbed old piano styles like ragtime and stride into a modern sensibility. PM

Petrillo Music Shell

6:00 PM David Sanchez Quintet

Puerto Rican tenor and soprano saxophonist David Sanchez doesn’t know the meaning of moderation: he’s sizzling right out of the gate, playing jittery lines with a tough modern tone and lots of energy and stamina. Here he’ll bring the same fine polyrhythmic rhythm section that backed him at Jazz Showcase a couple years ago, with bassist Hans Glawischnig, drummer Antonio Sanchez, and Pernell Saturnino on percussion. Pianist Edsel Gomez is a thoughtful soloist who leaves space in his own improvisations and behind Sanchez’s instead of filling it all up out of nerves or habit–something to be thankful for, as the leader’s nonstop fire breathing can be too much of a good thing. At the Showcase Sanchez stayed so close to the ceiling all evening he had nowhere left to go when the band built to a climax behind him. Then again, that tendency is likely to work to his advantage at the Petrillo band shell, where subtlety barely reaches the tenth row. KW

7:10 PM Patricia Barber

Patricia Barber has outgrown both the Gold Star Sardine Bar, where she got her start in the mid-80s, and the Green Mill, where she had a regular gig less than a year ago. These days she’s on the road more and more, and when she’s home she can pack the Park West. But I still don’t get it: while she’s a fine Bill Evans-influenced keyboardist, her chilly, hushed singing style has always struck me as pinched, and her lyrics hit you over the head with their own cleverness. My biases aren’t budged by her new album, Verse (Blue Note), where she plays minimal piano when she plays at all–the instrument is totally absent from several songs. Barber’s mix of cabaret, torch jazz, adult pop, and sultry ambience is “sophisticated” the same way This American Life is “insightful.” She’s joined here by guitarist Neal Alger and her longtime bassist Michael Arnopol. PM

:20 PM * Larry Coryell Trio With Arthur Blythe

Guitarist Coryell and altoist Blythe both played with drummer Chico Hamilton early in their careers, though not at the same time. Both were recruited to play this festival slot as part of a Hamilton reunion band. But when the leader bowed out for health reasons, fest organizers scraped together this dog’s breakfast: Coryell and Blythe with bassist Mark Egan and drummer Paul Wertico, who’ve both backed Pat Metheny, though not at the same time. Coryell’s combination of slinky jazz-guitar chops with the bite and speed of fusion is a perennially good one–a little slick, a little raw, but not too much of either. And Blythe would be worth hearing even if he were fronting the Backwater High All-Stars. He arrived with a splash in the 70s, thanks to his cutting tone, serrated vibrato, and rhythmic incisiveness. Because he tends to record his small book of original tunes over and over, his albums have gradually inspired less and less interest, but he can still raise the neck hairs with a piercing high note and make any band sound like it’s dancing right along with him. KW

Friday, August 30

Chicago Cultural Center

12:15 PM * Scott Rosenberg’s Chicago Big Band Project

Reedist and composer Scott Rosenberg left Chicago in 2001 after a productive two-year stay; he returns this week to present a new group featuring ten of the city’s finest players, including reedist Aram Shelton, drummer Tim Daisy, and trombonist Nick Broste. They’ll debut new pieces influenced by Sun Ra and the large-ensemble tradition of the AACM’s first generation. For more on Rosenberg, see this week’s Post No Bills. PM

Petrillo Music Shell

6:00 PM Fifty Years of Big Band Jazz: A Tribute to Bill Holman With the Chicago Jazz Ensemble

Although Bill Holman is an accomplished tenor saxophonist, he made his reputation primarily as an arranger. In 1952 he joined Stan Kenton’s big band as an instrumentalist, and in short order he was writing and arranging for him. He went on to do the same for a veritable who’s who of big band leaders, including Woody Herman, Maynard Ferguson, Gerry Mulligan, Terry Gibbs, Count Basie, Buddy Rich, and Doc Severinsen, and his bold and brassy arrangements have come to define the modern big band sound. Holman has a masterful way with punchy counterpoint, and he knows how to make the brass strut like a flock of peacocks, but his tendency is to go for more when less would do, and he can crush a swinging rhythm with the heft of his charts. He’ll conduct the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, the acclaimed repertoire band led by fellow Kenton alum William Russo, in what’s billed as a tribute to his own oeuvre. PM

7:10 PM * Ray Anderson Pocket Brass Band

Chicago native Ray Anderson has been a marquee name ever since he succeeded George Lewis as Anthony Braxton’s trombonist of choice in the late 70s. The association with Braxton spotlighted his avant-garde proclivities early on–and indeed few ‘bone slingers can match his arsenal of agile multiphonics, his acrobatic range in the instrument’s upper register, or his gut-rumbling growls. But Anderson’s style goes deeper than his trick bag. He can swing with sophistication, play slick, amped-up funk, or launch a down and dirty attack on the blues–and regardless of the situation, he never forgets to entertain. His groups over the decades have covered plenty of ground, but in particular his Pocket Brass quartet leaves no stone unturned, displaying the same sort of polystylistic cojones and sly humor as Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy. On the group’s sole recording, 1999’s Where Home Is (Enja), the music can careen from a second-line groove to a march to deep blues in a minute without sounding forced or campy. Here the band will premiere “Home,” a new work commissioned by Chamber Music America and intended to reflect Chicago’s musical diversity. The band features trumpeter Lew Soloff, sousaphone player Jose Davila, and drummer Pheeroan akLaff. PM

:20 PM * Ahmad Jamal With George Coleman

Being singled out for praise by Miles Davis in the 1950s doubtless helped pianist Ahmad Jamal stay true to the virtues the trumpeter admired: restraint, a graceful command of harmony, an excellent ear for material, and a knack for small-group orchestration. (Miles even lifted a few tunes and arrangements from Jamal’s book.) Still, even critics who dug Miles slammed Jamal at the time as a purveyor of cocktail-hour mood music. Last year’s Olympia 2000 (recorded live in Paris for Dreyfuss with the same quartet that appears here) shows how little merit their charges carried: his firm, weighted keyboard attack puts over his stripped-down ideas with authority, and his timing remains a marvel. The rhythm section knows what that’s about: bassist James Cammack has played with him off and on for 20 years, drummer Idris Muhammad for about eight. Barn-burning, beefy-toned tenor saxophonist George Coleman sounded awfully good at the Jazz Showcase in July; on the album he and Jamal occasionally push each other a little beyond the bounds of good taste–but only a little. KW

Saturday, August 31

Jazz & Heritage Family Stage

12:30 PM Children’s Dance Theater of Chicago

This song-and-dance group, comprising local kids ages 7 to 16, draws from ballet, tap, and hip-hop. PM

1:45 PM David Hernandez and Street Sounds

Local poet David Hernandez has been giving musical readings of his work with the simpatico backing of Street Sounds since 1971; the current lineup features guitarists Mitchell Marti and Bruce Mak, bassist James Cornolo, and percussionist Osbardo Merced. PM

3:00 PM Yoko Noge & the Jazz Me Blues

Japanese pianist and singer Yoko Noge got hooked on the blues growing up in Osaka, and in 1987 she migrated to the source. Since then she’s become a local fixture, with a long-running Monday night gig at HotHouse. Her band, which blurs the distinction between the two genres in its name, includes three saxophonists (Clark Dean on soprano, Jimmy Ellis on alto, and Sonny Seals on tenor), trombonist John Watson, bassist Tatsu Aoki, and (replacing the late Phil Thomas) drummer Avreeayl Ra. PM

4:15 PM The Art of Soloing With Dushun Mosley

Effortlessly flexible drummer Dushun Mosley will combine performance and discussion to illustrate the architecture and logic of the jazz solo. Helping him out are two of his bandmates in the great local octet 8 Bold Souls, bassist Harrison Bankhead and reedist Mwata Bowden. PM

Jazz on Jackson

Noon Grazyna Auguscik’s Past Forward

Although she’s a dyed-in-the-wool jazz singer, swinging and improvising with the imagination of an instrumentalist, local Polish-born singer Grazyna Auguscik has undertaken a variety of special projects that bring other influences into the fold. She’s worked with dance music producer Robert Grillo, who wove her airy vocals through club beats, and she’s also explored samba and bossa nova with local guitarist Paulinho Garcia. Here she’ll unveil her most recent fusion, a Chicago Composers Project commission called Past Forward. Auguscik collaborated with accordionist Jarek Bester of Poland’s fantastic Cracow Klezmer Band on a new set of music that reportedly combines elements of traditional Polish, Balkan, Ukrainian, and klezmer music with the rhythms and voicings of jazz. Bester will join saxophonist Steve Eisen, bassist Kelly Sill, and drummer Ernie Adams as well as four Polish musicians for this premiere. She’ll perform the piece again during next month’s World Music Festival, joined by the full Cracow Klezmer Band. PM

1:05 PM Butch Thompson

Best known as the house pianist on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion from the mid-70s through the mid-80s, pianist Butch Thompson has spent the bulk of his four-decade career preserving, performing, and promoting the traditional jazz of New Orleans. He was born and raised in Minnesota, but after high school he made his first pilgrimage south and a few years later became a rare nonnative regular at Preservation Hall, the Crescent City’s trad jazz temple. Over the decades he’s made numerous solo, trio, and octet recordings, worked on the off-Broadway show Jelly Roll! The Music and the Man, toured Europe as a member of the King Oliver Centennial Band, and performed on the Grammy-winning 1997 collaboration between trumpeters Doc Cheatham and Nicholas Payton. He also turns up as a guest on the brand-new Delmark live album by Wisconsin-based Brit Norrie Cox and his New Orleans Stompers. Thompson’s great at period interpretations of works by piano legends like Morton, Eubie Blake, Scott Joplin, Fats Waller, and James P. Johnson; though his repertoire is awfully quaint, his craftsmanship and his sheer love of the music bring it to life. He plays solo here. PM

2:10 PM Ron Perrillo Trio

With a busy club scene, and traveling soloists passing through in need of accompaniment, Chicago remains a breeding ground for resourceful rhythm players who can jell into a trio in an instant and have the range to cater to whomever might be fronting the band. Since such musicians are often paid to make someone else sound good, a side-stage gig like this can be just the place to reveal their own virtues. Three of the city’s best come together here: pianist Ron Perrillo, bassist Dennis Carroll, and drummer Dana Hall, all of whom have worked with guitarist Bobby Broom (who knows a thing or two about making a rhythm section groove). Perrillo’s fleet lines, punchy chording, and rhythmic change-ups can make him sound like he’s riffling through the jazz piano history book, volume two, but usually he makes those old hats fit his own head. Expect a tasty set of straight-up swing. KW

3:25 PM * Saxophone Summit

Last winter at Tuley Park, baritone saxophonist Mwata Bowden premiered his Procession of the Reed Warriors with help from fellow saxists Eric Schneider on alto and Duke Payne and Ari Brown on tenor. I didn’t hear it myself, but apparently it went well enough to inspire a reunion of the personnel for this jam session. Bowden sounds as much at home anchoring the Chicago Jazz Orchestra’s big-band charts as he does adding to 8 Bold Souls’ big low-end rumble. Schneider has a bright, beboppy glassblower’s tone on alto; Payne and Brown can step inside or trample outside the chord changes as needed; with luck Payne will bring his bagpipes too, for a color one doesn’t hear much at jam sessions, staged or otherwise. Having drummer Kobie Watkins in the rhythm section (alongside pianist Ken Chaney and bassist Harrison Bankhead) is insurance against lackadaisicality. Might not be a gig for the ages, but it should be good fun. KW

Petrillo Music Shell

5:00 PM Oliver Lake & Mal Waldron

Pianist Mal Waldron was one of jazz’s first minimalists, milking single phrases for myriad organic variations before anyone had ever heard of Philip Glass. Through repetition and a fondness for the lower half of the keyboard, his solos gradually acquire dark, brooding power. Alto saxophonist Oliver Lake came out of the Saint Louis creative-music scene that paralleled Chicago’s, circa 1970, along with Julius Hemphill and Hamiet Bluiett; soon the three of them were three-fourths of the World Saxophone Quartet. Lake still has a pungent, scalding sound, and playing in various quartet, solo, and duo sessions without a conventional rhythm section has helped him develop a self-contained drive that should come in handy here. Waldron has lived in various European cities for four decades and isn’t heard in the States often; still it’s clear that at age 77 he’s lost some of his edge. Pairing the two of them for the first time was a programmer’s quixotic idea–hey, if it were obvious, somebody would have done it already–but the combination of dark and bright timbres and hesitant and propulsive timing just might work. KW

6:00 PM * Jimmy Heath With the Chicago Jazz Orchestra

Jimmy Heath emerged in the 1940s from Philadelphia’s fertile jazz scene, where he was a running mate of John Coltrane; he earned the nickname “Little Bird” for his Charlie Parker-like fluency on the alto saxophone. After leading his own big band in Philly he moved to New York, where he worked with Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Chet Baker, and Art Blakey, switched to the tenor sax, and composed prolifically. Many of the tunes he composed in the 50s have become jazz standards–including “C.T.A.,” “For Minors Only,” and “Gingerbread Boy”–and in 1956 Baker and saxophonist Art Pepper relied heavily on his book in recording their classic Playboys. Heath performed and recorded in the 60s with stars like Milt Jackson and Art Farmer, but much of his time was spent as an educator. In the 70s he played hard bop with his siblings Percy and Albert in the Heath Brothers (see Critic’s Choice), but not until the 90s did he put his writing and arranging talents to use in another steady big band gig. In ’96 he collaborated with Chicago’s long-running Jazz Members Big Band–now called the Chicago Jazz Orchestra–for a week of gigs at the Jazz Showcase. Tonight they reunite to play tunes from his thick songbook. The band, directed by Jeff Lindberg, includes a who’s who of the city’s finest hard bop players, including trumpeters Art Davis and Art Hoyle, pianist Dan Trudell, bassist Dennis Carroll, and drummer Dana Hall. PM

7:10 PM Carla Cook Quintet

This Detroit-bred singer has broad interests and a knack for integrating them naturally into a time-tested jazz style, borrowing sparingly from funk, R & B, gospel, and even countrypolitan (her take on “Ode to Billie Joe” retains much of the tune’s rural sass) without coming off as a dilettante. She tackles melodies and rhythms with precision and focus, gaining the confidence of the listener, and then takes flight with her ebullient but equally precise solos; she’s not one for vocal histrionics and her scat singing never devolves into self-indulgent expressionism. Last year’s Dem Bones (Maxjazz) was a neat experiment with instrumentation, featuring the three-trombone front line of Craig Harris, Fred Wesley, and Tyrone Jefferson, but her forthcoming Simply Natural, on which she and a smaller band tackle everything from Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man” to the Simon & Garfunkel warhorse “Scarborough Fair” to the obscure Ellington nugget “Tulip or Turnip,” is equally successful. Here she’ll be supported by her regular working band: pianist Andy Milne, bassist Vashon Johnson, percussionist Jeff Haynes, and drummer Ernie Adams. PM

:20 PM * Wayne Shorter Quartet

The emergence of Wayne Shorter’s new quartet is one of the great jazz stories of the last decade. The saxophonist came up as a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and made his mark in Miles Davis’s great 60s quintet, where he, Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock, and Ron Carter collaborated on some of the most advanced ensemble music ever wrought. In the 70s Shorter (by then playing tenor and soprano) cofounded Weather Report, one of the most popular and influential groups in jazz fusion. But his subsequent work was inconsistent; his trademark focus and drive gave way to the ethereal nothingness of Phantom Navigator and Joy Ryder. In the 90s he took a step in the right direction, playing in a short-lived duo with Hancock, but the music was stillborn. Then last year Shorter recruited himself a young and exceedingly nimble rhythm section–pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Brian Blade–which seems to have reinvigorated him. They’ve toured steadily and earlier this summer released the excellent Footprints Live! (Verve), the leader’s first-ever live album and–excluding that dull Hancock duet–his first all-acoustic recording since 1967. The recording unmistakably echoes the classic Davis Quintet with its emphasis on deft group interplay as well as its inclusion of Shorter tunes made famous by that group, like “Masquelero” and “Footprints.” The microscopic interactions of the rhythm section can occasionally scuttle the flow, and Shorter occasionally seems to struggle on the tenor, but lesser players could learn a thing or two from the intelligence, compositional logic, and economy of his solos. PM

Sunday, September 1

Jazz & Heritage Family Stage

12:30 PM Clave: Following the Beat With Danilo Perez

Perez, in town with Wayne Shorter’s quartet, is an official cultural ambassador from Panama, and here he’ll give an insider’s view of Latin rhythms. Inevitably he’ll begin with the basic clave pattern, where syncopation is built in; from there he’ll pile on the variations. Even listeners with some grounding in Latin jazz might pick up a fresh insight or two. KW

1:45 PM A History of Jazz With Jodie Christian

It’s often a drag or inadvertent joke when a pianist sits down to demonstrate the long journey of jazz, because eventually he’ll run into a style he has no ear for: Dick Hyman impersonating Cecil Taylor is a good example. Jodie Christian should fare better than most, given his personal history. His dad played in speakeasies, his mom in church. His own resume’s hard to match for versatility: since the 1950s he’s played in Chicago clubs with more visiting soloists than anyone remembers, and toured with Coleman Hawkins, Gene Ammons, the electric Eddie Harris, outcat Roscoe Mitchell, and funky Art Porter. In the course of his survey of a century of progress Christian will surely show off his own laconic, behind-the-beat swing at the keys. KW

3:00 PM Music of North Africa and the Middle East With Najib Bahri & El Amal

Tunisian percussionist Najib Bahri and his Chicago-based group El Amal perform the classical music of North Africa, a rich tradition whose scales and modal harmonies have exerted a subtle but steady influence on jazz over the decades. PM

4:15 PM Langston Hughes’s Weary Blues With Quraysh Ali Lansana & the T.S. Galloway Sextet

Jazz fueled even Langston Hughes’s earliest work, including his first prizewinning poem, “Weary Blues.” In 1958, when jazz and poetry had become promiscuous bedfellows, critic and pianist Leonard Feather brought Hughes into the studio to dryly declaim fragments of various poems (including these much-quoted lines from “Harlem”: “What happens to a dream deferred? / Does it dry up / Like a raisin in the sun?”) for the LP Weary Blues (now available on a Verve CD). On one side he was backed by a Charles Mingus quintet, which occasionally played fragments from future Mingus classics like “Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting” as well as stylized blues and gospel tunes. On the flip, Feather contributed his own pedestrian blues and Dixieland-y jazz for sextet, cutting himself in for a chunk of the publishing dough (a specialty of his as a producer) and giving an ironic tinge to the lines “You’ve taken my blues and gone…and you’ve fixed ’em so they don’t sound like me.” For this flashback, Chicago poet Quraysh Ali Lansana will recite Hughes’s lines, hopefully with some of the wise restraint the poet displayed, letting the words and not showmanship put over the rhythms. The sextet led by T.S. Galloway will revive the music; saxophonist Ari Brown should have fun stepping into the shoes of Shafi Hadi and Sam “the Man” Taylor, who played tenor on the original. The band’s rounded out by trumpeter Burgess Gardner, bassist Harrison Bankhead, drummer Avreeayl Ra, and pianist Ken Chaney. KW

Jazz on Jackson

Noon Andy’s Windy City All-Stars With Franz Jackson

Tenor saxophonist Franz Jackson is a Chicago institution and Jazz Fest perennial who started playing back in the 20s, when Chicago jazz was just turning red-hot in the forge. Still in good fighting form, he’s witnessed the complete panorama of changes in the city’s music over the ensuing seven decades, and has incorporated some of them–like the phraseology of late swing–into his own style. This year he joins the Windy City All-Stars, the traditional Chicago group that has played Thursdays at Andy’s for the past few years, with Bob Neighbor on trumpet, Kim Cusack on clarinet, Doug Finke on trombone, Tom Hope on piano, Stuart Miller on bass, and Greg Sergo on drums. JC

1:05 PM John McLean Quintet

Guitarist John McLean is probably best known now for his long stint in Patricia Barber’s group, but he’s also worked with singers like Grazyna Auguscik, Terry Callier, and Kurt Elling. He’s been in Chicago for about a decade, but just released his debut as a leader, Easy Go (Premonition), last year; not surprisingly it’s an ensemble-minded recording. The players all get ample solo space, but no tune merely serves as a blowing vehicle; every phrase seems to have a purpose in a greater scheme. McLean’s got a modern mainstream sound–a rock-conversant approach influenced by John Scofield and Bill Frisell–and he can go from zero to 60 in ten seconds when he wants to, but his playing for the most part is marked by impressive restraint. He’ll play here with his fine working band–bassist Larry Kohut, pianist and Hammond B-3 whiz Karl Montzka, saxophonist Jim Gailloreto, and drummer Eric Montzka. PM

2:10 PM Chuchito Valdes’s Afro-Cuban Latin Jazz

Chuchito’s grandpa, Bebo Valdes, was mixing jazz and stately prerevolution Cuban dance steps in the 1940s and ’50s. (He now lives in Sweden, and is still at it.) Papa Chucho Valdes is the spitfire Afro-Cuban jazz pianist who led the hit international group Irakere–with whom he played his last gig at Jazz Fest in 1998. After that he handed over the reins to his son Chuchito, who held them for a couple years. On his current band’s CD Encantado (Town Crier) Chuchito evokes both forebears at the piano, digging into complex cross-rhythms, venerable son, bolero, and guajira beats, and cascading solos over montuno vamps. But his generically titled outfit also has a smooth-jazz side, thanks mostly to Australian-born saxophonist Laksar Reese, which is a whole lot less compelling. The band also features Kenny Anderson and Tito Carillo on trumpet, Willie Garcia on reeds, Jonathan Paul on bass, and Frankie Ocasio, Ruben Alvarez, and Carlos Quintos on percussion. KW

3:25 PM Maggie Brown

The daughter of singer and composer Oscar Brown Jr., Maggie Brown emerged in the late 80s as an actor, but in the early 90s she developed a one-woman show, Legacy: Our Wealth of Music, where she performed and talked about the history and development of African-American music. These days her sets are apt to include folk music, hip-hop, and spirituals as well as the kind of thoughtful jazz tunes her father earned his reputation writing. She’ll be joined by pianist Miguel de la Cerna, bassist Harrison Bankhead, drummer Kobie Watkins, and guitarist Herb Walker. PM

Petrillo Music Shell

5:00 PM * Von Freeman Quartet With Eddie Johnson

These days there aren’t many Chicago tenor greats you can refer to as “Von Freeman’s elder,” but Eddie Johnson fits the bill. Now 81, he’s been out of retirement for three decades, playing with the elegance and melodicism that earned him an invitation to join the Ellington band in the 40s (he turned it down to continue working with Louis Jordan). Though he’s 79 himself, Freeman has only recently entered that special phase of his career, getting the kind of bump in international visibility usually reserved for fellas half his age. But Vonski says he’s getting tired of hearing about birthdays, and you can hear why on last year’s Live at the Dakota (Premonition), where he attacks his bottomless repertoire of standards with a thoroughly up-to-date ear. The forthcoming disc The Improvisor presents him variously with pianist Jason Moran (live at the Green Mill), with his own group (the one that plays every Tuesday at the New Apartment Lounge on 75th), and solo (at the Cultural Center); on a live quartet date recorded in Holland, soon to be issued on the Bimhuis label, his timeless tenor work meets the explosive swing of drummer Han Bennink with predictably glorious results. With nimble John Young–who has worked extensively with both Freeman and Johnson–on piano, Dan Anderson on bass, and Freeman regular Michael Raynor on drums, the stage is set for a powerful meeting of the young at heart and wise in mind. JC

6:00 PM Jammin’ at the Petrillo

The idea was to bring back the excitement of the old Jazz at the Philharmonic jousts, where competitive soloists would try to whip the crowd into a frenzy. The oddball collection of younger players assembled here, a roster that looks suspiciously like the Whoever’s Available All-Stars, may only demonstrate that giants no longer roam the earth. I’ve heard little from pianist Eric Reed to suggest he packs the punch to knock the horn players into the rafters, even with his usual bassist Barak Mori and drummer Rodney Green helping out. On trumpet you’ve got jazz-hip-hop fusionist Russell Gunn, on trombone Jackie McLean protege Steve Davis; New York Canadian Seamus Blake and Chicago’s Jim Gailloreto are on saxophones. But it wouldn’t surprise me if the scene-stealer of the sax section, and the band, turned out to be baritonist Claire Daly. She can combine bebop phrasing with a big barking R & B tone, and can charge through fast tempos without dragging the beat. Jazz could use more like her. KW

7:10 PM * George Lewis and the NOW Orchestra With Fred Anderson, Billy Brimfield & Roscoe Mitchell

George Lewis is one of the great success stories of Chicago and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, which he joined in 1971. A player of tremendous ingenuity and facility, he took to heart the AACM’s basic principle that everyone should compose their own music, and in the middle of the 70s he put together a book of pieces for large ensemble. (Lewis’s big band experience includes stints with Count Basie and the Globe Unity Orchestra, so it’s an understatement to say he’s got a very expansive concept.) But almost none of this work was documented on record until just a few years ago, when Lewis began working with Vancouver’s outstanding NOW Orchestra, a band that includes such essential new jazz figures as pianist Paul Plimley, drummer Dylan van der Schyff, and cellist Peggy Lee. Augmenting his mid-70s works with the terrific new, “Smashing Clusters,” Lewis coached NOW through his challenging pieces, finally waxing The Shadowgraph Series for the Spool label in 2001. Lewis helps the Jazz Fest initiate its resident composer post this year, and for his main-stage appearance he’ll lead the full NOW Orchestra with special guests Fred Anderson on tenor sax and Billy Brimfield (who will hopefully be able to perform, having just survived a minor stroke) on trumpet, as well as star AACM reedist Roscoe Mitchell. This is some daring programming on the festival’s part, but also a long overdue celebration for one of creative music’s most significant contemporary figures. JC

:20 PM Millennium Monk Featuring Sphere With Phil Woods

I don’t know what the two-year-old millennial hype has to do with Monk, but there’s never a bad reason to celebrate the brilliant pianist’s music. Steve Lacy and Roswell Rudd formed the first Monk repertory band back in the early 60s, but Sphere is still probably the best-known. The quartet was founded in 1979 and included two well respected veterans of Monk’s groups, saxophonist Charlie Rouse and drummer Ben Riley, along with pianist Kenny Barron and bassist Buster Williams. When Rouse died in 1988 the group disbanded, and when it cut a new album in 1998, with Gary Bartz on sax, it included only two Monk compositions. But the group is back to its original mission tonight, exploring the man’s indelible melodies, unusual harmonies, and jagged rhythmic contours. They’re joined by alto sax legend Phil Woods, who worked in several of Monk’s larger groups in the 50s and 60s. PM

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Michael Jackson.