Talk all you want about pianist Jodie Christian’s earth-stirring swing, or his unique harmonic adjustments, or the hard-wrought gossamer of his right-hand work, or the inestimable soul he wrings from the keyboard; the real reason he received this year’s Jazz Masters Award (from the advocacy organization Arts Midwest) has to do with his resilient versatility. Christian played hard-bop in the 50s, but he also cofounded the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians–free jazz holds no terrors for him–and he excels at virtually everything in between. Most Chicagoans know him from his frequent appearances at the Jazz Showcase, where a who’s who of visiting hornmen have requested that he lead the mainstream trios behind them; yet last weekend, in a quartet with postmodernist David Murray, Christian crafted a number of solos that–with their untethered but clearly directed trajectories–served as powerful object lessons in new music. Christian’s new CD, Rain or Shine (Delmark), covers all this ground: it ranges from the title tune, a standard (sung, sort of, by Christian himself), to a composition by his AACM cohort Roscoe Mitchell. Both Mitchell and electro-contempo sensation Art Porter play on the album, and both will show up for the CD-release party (open to the public) that coincides with this engagement. Friday, 8 and 9:30 PM, Bop Shop, 1807 W. Division; 235-3232.

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