Chicago Jazz Orchestra Featuring Art Davis

You’ll probably never hear the words “flash” and “showmanship” applied to local trumpeter Art Davis; no one would back him in a Battle of the Bugles against virtuosic hot dogs like Jon Faddis or fellow Chicagoan Orbert Davis (no relation). He depends instead on the careful placement of one note next to another: even at quick time, his improvised melodies sound painstakingly chiseled, and his best passages seem inevitable–no one in his right mind would change a note. He also plays in an unadorned, slightly dour tone that blends into an ensemble rather than soaring above it, which serves him well as a member of the Chicago Jazz Orchestra. For all these reasons, at the CJO’s performance of Gil Evans’s famed arrangement of music from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess this Sunday, Davis will be an appropriate ringer for the taciturn, introspective Miles Davis–again, no relation. The second of the four projects Evans and Miles collaborated on between 1957 and 1962, Porgy garnered the most attention–and not just because of “Summertime,” the soulful, melancholy lullaby that Evans infused with a bouncy swagger perfect for Miles’s shy yet exhilarated muted trumpet. The two worked magic throughout the 50-minute, 13-movement suite, turning even Gershwin’s lesser-known tunes into minor jazz standards, bathed in irresistible pastels and stirred by rousing tempos (“Buzzard Song,” “Gone,” “Here Come de Honey Man”). The piece was never intended for public performance; then again, when it was recorded, in 1958, few foresaw the establishment of jazz repertory groups like the CJO (formerly the Jazz Members Big Band). The band sometimes sounds one rehearsal short of nailing material this ambitious, but director Jeff Lindberg and his hardworking, conscientious crew still rank among the nation’s best jazz orchestras. Sunday, 3 PM, auditorium, Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State; 312-409-3947.