• courtesy of Mike Allemana

Guitarist Mike Allemana doesn’t hide his affection for Chicago jazz history. In fact, he’s been vested in seeing that it gets all of the support it needs. For years he was the working guitarist in most of the groups led by the great tenor saxophonist Von Freeman. He recently put together a quartet to feature the playing of Von’s guitar-playing brother George, who’s 86, a musician long in the shadows of his sibling and one who’s had a pretty low profile in recent years. George will play a short set dedicating a stage at the upcoming Chicago Jazz Festival to his brother, but listeners have a chance to really soak in his sounds during the final two Thursday evenings of a monthly residency of his band with Allemana at Constellation, which also features Pete Benson (of Sabertooth) on Hammond B-3 and Mike Schlick on drums. There’s no cover for the shows.

Allemana has had his fair share of experience working in an organ combo, and one of his best recordings features him in that format. His 2009 album Lin’s Holiday—the title is a nice play on the name of the legendary Chicago tenor player Lin Halliday—is an easy-swinging affair with Schlick and organist Dan Trudell. The album doesn’t push the envelope in any way, but it demonstrates the guitarist’s good taste, skill as an improviser, and Catholic sensibilities when it comes to repertoire (including modern pop standards like the Dusty Springfield classic “Just a Little Lovin’,” the Brazilian tune “Galho Da Roseira,” jazz tunes by Thelonious Monk and Big John Patton, and strong originals). Below you can hear Allemana’s own “The Out Patient.”


I haven’t had a chance to catch the Allemana-Freeman Quartet yet, but I’ve heard great things about the group and I certainly intend to stop by next week. Below is a video clip from earlier in August of the group playing “Happy Fingers.” The video is pretty dark, but it’s plenty effective in transmitting the vibe of the music.

Today’s playlist:

Scott Walker, Bish Bosch (4AD)
Actress, R.I.P. (Honest Jon’s)
Jakob Ullmann, Fremde Zeit—Addendum (Edition RZ)
Gianluca Petrella Cosmic Band, Coming Tomorrow—Part Two (Spacebone)
Ulysses Owens Jr., Unanimous (Criss Cross)

Peter Margasak writes about jazz every Friday.