Pandelis Karayorgis at the Hungry Brain

Chicagoans usually have many nightly options when it comes to quality jazz, but this is an especially fertile weekend. In this week’s Soundboard I wrote previews for shows by violinist Regina Carter, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, and pianist Brad Mehldau, but there are three more strong bands—both local and touring—playing around town over the next couple of nights. Tonight at Constellation the fantastic Boston pianist and composer Pandelis Karayorgis will perform with the Chicago-centric quintet responsible for last year’s Circuitous (Driff), one of my favorite albums of 2013. It will mark the first time the group has played in town since the album was released.

As I’ve written before, Karayorgis composed the music with the classic Tony Williams album Spring in mind, but the dazzling results proved that the leader has a conception all his own. The dynamic frontline pairs reedists Keefe Jackson and Dave Rempis, both delivering some of the strongest playing of their careers. They’re supported by the agile rhythm section of bassist Nate McBride—making only his second area appearance after he moved back to Boston a year ago—drummer Frank Rosaly, and the pianist himself, a probing musical mind who routinely finds contemporary ideas within the vintage sounds of Herbie Nichols, Hasaan Ibn Ali, and Elmo Hope. Below you can check out the smoldering, concentrated intensity of “Here in July.”

Michael Moore
  • Francesca Patella
  • Michael Moore

On Saturday evening Constellation plays host to the Chicago debut of the working quartet led by Amsterdam reedist Michael Moore. Moore—a California native who in recent years has performed in town as a member of the ICP Orchestra, Available Jelly, and in various ad hoc combinations with local musicians—will be joined by pianist Harmen Fraanje, bassist Clemens van der Feen, and the sublime drummer Michael Vatcher (another Cali-to-Netherlands expat). As I wrote last year about Amsterdam, the terrific 2011 album from that lineup,

Drummer Michael Vatcher (who plays with Moore in many projects, including the sextet Available Jelly) adapts Han Bennink’s predisposition for stretching or toppling a steady pulse or an easy swing pattern, but no matter what surprises he springs, Moore remains unfazed—even amid chaos he stoically continues his compositionally sound improvisations. Moore demonstrates his mastery of ballads on the lovely “Hilletjesbrug,” alongside plangent chords by pianist Harmen Fraanje and serene arco lines by bassist Clemens van der Feen; on the lurching “Not Yet” he blows tart upper-register squeals on bass clarinet as his compatriots alternate between a steeplechase lope and a careful saunter, exploring the parameters of the tune to their utmost.

More recently the reedist released three new duo recordings on his own Ramboy imprint with pianist Achim Kaufmann (a German musician also based in Amsterdam)—they’ve been playing together for 25 years, although they haven’t made many records together. Something Nothing focuses on original pieces by Moore, Nothing Something is a collection of improvisations, and Furthermore includes readings of eight compositions by the great Herbie Nichols (a strong influence on the playing of Misha Mengelberg, Moore’s boss in ICP) as well as a tune by Andrew Hill and one by Kaufmann. While Furthermore generally resides in a postbop bag, it shares a deep intimacy with the other two efforts, one revealing the sort of strong rapport between the players that requires years of development. Below you can check out “Crisp Day,” the opening piece on Furthermore.

Achim Kaufmann and Michael Moore, “Crisp Day”

On Friday and Saturday saxophonist Pat Mallinger will celebrate the release of his fine new quartet album, Elevate (PJM Jazz), with concerts at the Green Mill—regulars of the venue will recognize him as one of the members of Sabertooth, which holds court at the club every Saturday beginning at midnight. Once again Mallinger is working with one of Chicago’s best rhythm sections in bassist Dennis Carroll and drummer George Fludas along with the routinely overlooked Minnesota pianist Bill Carrothers. The group’s previous outing was recorded live at the Green Mill, and while this new effort was done in a studio, there’s an admirably loose vibe and electric energy that recall the feel of that predecessor. Mallinger is a mainstream player, blowing brisk and precise hard bop marked by soul and buoyancy; there isn’t much here that you haven’t heard before, but the quartet achieves it all with impressive craft and style, qualities his compositions share. He wrote all 11 pieces here. Below you can check out the slightly Monkish “Ho-Ho-Kus Blues.”

Pat Mallinger Quartet With Bill Carrothers, “Ho-Ho-Kus Blues”

Finally, the great Chicago pianist and bandleader King Fleming died on April 1 at the age of 92. He only made a handful of recordings under his own name—in 1996 he told me, “I couldn’t record the things I wanted to record, so I had no interest in making other records.” Still, he was an important arranger and player during the 50s and 60s, playing on the classic 1958 Lorez Alexandria album Lorez Sings Pres and influencing a young Muhal Richard Abrams (in other AACM lore, bassist Malachi Favors played on Fleming’s 1962 Cadet album Stand By). He ended up releasing two more albums for the Southport label in 1996 and 2000. There will be a public memorial and celebration of his life on Monday evening between 6 and 9 PM at the Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit (1355 W. 115th). Below you can listen to “Overt,” a track from his great 1961 album Misty Night, one of three albums he cut for Cadet between that year and 1965.

YouTube video

Today’s playlist:

Due East, Drawn Only Once (New Amsterdam)
Brett Naucke, The Visitor (Nihilist)
Joe Harriott Quintet, Movement/High Spirits (Vocalion)
Kenny Vaughan, V (Sugar Hill)
Wooden Shjips, Dos (Holy Mountain)