Organist Charles Earland’s migration to Chicago, in early 1988, made perfect sense; for years, first in his native Philadelphia and later throughout the country, Earland had been playing the kind of soulful, bountiful, rollicking jazz that’s most at home in the clubs of Chicago’s south side. Earland possesses the expansiveness that seems to come with his instrument–a quality that helps make him dangerous, even untoppable in jam sessions–and combines the expected keyboard fireworks with a busy and insistent pulse from the organ’s foot-pedal bass register. His appearance this weekend kicks off UndergroundFest, the peripatetic homegrown festival that began as an alternative to the Chicago Jazz Festival and has metamorphosed into a distinct event of impressive proportions. (Among those on the three-day bill: Kahil El-Zabar’s Ritual Trio, featuring Ed Wilkerson and Joseph Bowie, Miles Davis sideman Darryl Jones in a solo bass-guitar set, the sax choir Saxophonitis, Malachi Thompson’s Freebop Band, and Von Freeman.) Tonight, At the Tracks, 325 N. Jefferson; 332-1124.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Bruce Powell.