In 1984 Chicago pianist and songwriter Dave Gordon released a distinctive late-fusion date called Green Things. He waited more than a decade to make his next album, Turn (Southport Records), which certainly lives up to its title. (No surprise there: any musician who hadn’t turned from the fulminant excesses of fusion would have a tough time in the post-Marsalis era.) As he did in the 80s, Gordon works with the fluent saxophonist Brian Gephart, and he’s added another in Dave Zielinski; together they give his music a dueling-reedmen lineup that places the album squarely in the jazz mainstream. But even though Gordon eschews electronics to concentrate on piano, and even though his band features a quite traditional postbop lineup of two saxes and rhythm, he can’t completely bury his fusion roots: they feed several of the compositions on his new album, to great effect. Sharply angled tunes like “Snitch” and “Gato Samba” capture the hard, electric drive of the 70s and early 80s; but now they ride the rounded, organic rhythms that unmistakably spell jazz, and the contrast gives these songs a tangy spark. And his pretty trio version of “Caliope”–which Gordon first recorded, with lots of bells and whistles, on Green Things–provides a fine illustration of how he’s refined his music. (One more echo from the 80s is the agile, hollow-toned bass guitar of Brian Derek; he gives even a standard, like Jerome Kern’s “I’m Old-Fashioned,” a whiff of fusion’s fleeting fancy.) Gordon’s band will play for free at a CD-release party for Turn. Friday, 5 PM, Bop Shop, 1807 W. Division; 235-3232.

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