The fourth installment of the Umbrella Music Festival is one day shorter than the third. But otherwise this event, which is eclipsed only by the Chicago Jazz Festival as the most impressive and adventurous jazz event of the year, seems to have escaped the effects of global recession. It kicks off November 5 with “European Jazz Meets Chicago,” a fest-within-a-fest wherein half a dozen European consulates will introduce native talent to the local audience. Brilliant Lithuanian reedist Liudas Mockunas and Swiss reedist Hans Koch will perform with some of their Chicago counterparts; Austrian drummer Martin Brandlmayr (Radian, Trapist), Swedish guitarist David Stackenas, the Netherlands’ Guus Janssen Trio, and the German-Dutch trio of pianist Achim Kaufmann, reedist Frank Gratkowski, and bassist Wilbert de Joode are also on tap.
Visiting artists outside of the opening-night program are stronger than ever, including pianist Matthew Shipp, legendary Los Angeles cornetist Bobby Bradford (a longtime collaborator of clarinetist John Carter as well as a childhood pal and cohort of Ornette Coleman), and the Chicago debut of the fiery Japanese free-jazz reedist Akira Sakata—playing both with his working trio of Chris Corsano and Darin Gray and the rhythm section of Powerhouse Sound (bassist Nate McBride, guitarist Jeff Parker, and drummer John Herndon). The event closes out with a bang: a nonet assembled by Ken Vandermark to play his arrangements of Joe McPhee compositions, including McPhee himself.