Fast Citizens play at the Von Freeman Pavilion.
Fast Citizens play at the Von Freeman Pavilion. Credit: Johnathan Crawford

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Von Freeman Pavilion

[Recommended]Fast Citizens
This mostly local sextet has an unusual strategy for creative renewal, but there’s no arguing with the results. It’s maintained the same personnel for ten years, surviving even the 2005 departure of reedist Aram Shelton for Oakland, California, but on each album (three so far) a different member leads the band. Last year’s Gather (Delmark), with cellist and tenor guitarist Fred Lonberg-Holm at the helm, is their best yet. They’ve never done a better job exploiting their stylistic range, instrumental versatility, and pugnacious attitude. Shelton also plays Thursday at Elastic with his Chicago quartet. Bill Meyer

Juli Wood Quintet
1:10 PM
Over the years plenty of jazz instrumentalists have stepped up to the mike to sing, but Chicago hard-bop reedist Juli Wood is a double threat, equally adept at both. Last year she self-released 5 4 3 2 1, documenting her skills with a collection of bop, swing, and soul-jazz tunes, and she’ll perform here with most of the band from the record: trumpeter Larry Bowen, trombonist Steve Berry, organist Pete Benson, and drummer Todd Howell. Peter Margasak

Evan Christopher Clarinet Road
2:20 PM
Thanks to his incomparable mastery of early New Orleans and Chicago jazz, Crescent City clarinet virtuoso Evan Christopher often gets pegged as a neotraditionalist, but his ears are much bigger than that. He’s demonstrated fluency in Brazilian choro, Argentine tango, and jazz manouche, among other styles, and with his fine working group, Clarinet Road, he’s forged a compelling composite sound, informed by the past and rooted in the present. The band’s lineup for this gig includes guitarist-bassist Don Vappie, organist-pianist Joe Ashlar, and drummer Ocie Davis. Peter Margasak

3:30 PM
This risk-­taking Scandinavian quintet never eases up on the ambition, and on its brand-new album, There’s a Hole in the Mountain (Jazzland), its music reaches its most highly evolved state yet. Pianist Haavard Wiik and reedist Fredrik Ljungkvist (joined on the front line by trumpeter Magnus Broo) write formally bold compositions, incorporating dramatic shifts in density, volume, and scale that borrow from contemporary classical music as much as from free jazz. The band’s raison d’etre, though, is high-wire improvisation, framed by those compositions and fueled by the explosive, nimble rhythm section of drummer Paal Nilssen-Love and bassist Ingebrigt Haaker Flaten. Atomic remains one of the most exciting, challenging, and wide-ranging outfits in jazz. Peter Margasak

Young Jazz Lions Pavilion

11:30 AM Jones College Prep High School Jazz Combo

12:15 PM Chicago High School for the Arts Jazz Combo

1 PM Morgan Park High School Jazz Ensemble

1:55 PM Curie Metro High School Jazz Ensemble

2:40 PM Roosevelt University Chicago College of Performing Arts Latin Jazz Ensemble

3:35 PM Lincoln Park High School Jazz Ensemble

Jazz & Heritage Pavilion

12:30 PM
The Engines are an egalitarian collective—everyone solos, everyone composes. The fact that the quartet is still a going concern even though half its members have moved east illustrates how highly saxophonist Dave Rempis, trombonist Jeb Bishop, bassist Nate McBride, and drummer Tim Daisy value the muscular, ever-changing music they make together; the fact that the great wind player John Tchicai made one of his last records with them (he died late last year) testifies to the esteem in which other musicians hold the band. There’s no better reason to show up early today than to hear the Engines walk the tightrope of collective improvisation and rip through their newest tunes with verve and precision. Bill Meyer

Fareed Haque and Tony Monaco
2 PM
Fareed Haque has long been one of Chicago’s most stylistically restless guitarists, but until his recent collaboration with Hammond B-3 heavy Tony Monaco, he had little use for one of his instrument’s most reliable settings—the organ trio. Haque and Monaco are joined by drummer Makaya McCraven, and I’d expect a preview of their debut album, due this fall. Peter Margasak

[Recommended]Papo Vazquez Mighty Pirates Troubadours
3:30 PM
Judging by last year’s vibrant Oasis (Picaro), trombonist Papo Vazquez and his Mighty Pirates Troubadours might be the finest and most adventurous Latin-jazz group at work in the U.S. The agile, compact septet easily accommodates the stylistic variety in Vazquez’s rugged originals, which rely on Afro-Caribbean rhythms but also include suggestions of Middle Eastern sonorities (the title track, which features the fiery violin of guest Regina Carter) and slinky, elegant balladry (“Redemption”). His sidemen are tenor saxophonist Willie Williams, pianist Rich Germanson, bassist Alexander “Apolo” Ayala, kit drummer Alvester Garnett, and percussionists Anthony Carrillo and Carlos Maldonado. Peter Margasak

Pritzker Pavilion

[Recommended]Jimmy Heath Quartet with Jeb Patton
5 PM
The Chicago Jazz Festival has made a principle of celebrating elders, and none is more deserving than 86-year-old saxophonist, composer, and arranger Jimmy Heath. In 2010 he published an autobiography titled I Walked With Giants, which struck only one false note—he didn’t just walk with giants; he was one himself. Born in Philadelphia in 1926, Heath was already recording by the late 40s, tossing his hat into the bebop-and-beyond ring, but he really made his mark in the late 50s and 60s, leading his own ensemble and writing compositions and arrangements that remain cornerstones of the postbop canon. In the 70s he formed the Heath Brothers with his siblings Percy and Tootie, and he continues to perform regularly today. Younger brother Tootie has been ill, so in his place will be fine drummer Winard Harper, alongside bassist Michael Karn and pianist Jeb Patton. John Corbett

[Recommended]Hamid Drake & Bindu: Reggaeology
6:10 PM
Before he became one of the most acclaimed and in-demand free-jazz drummers in the world, Hamid Drake was one of the most talented and in-demand reggae drummers in Chicago, and in the current incarnation of Bindu (a catch-all name for his composition-driven projects) he weds those two worlds. Trombonists Jeb Bishop and Jeff Albert occupy the front line, while guitarist Jeff Parker and bassist Joshua Abrams help Drake sculpt thick, infectious grooves; Cincinnati beatboxer Napoleon Maddox sometimes reinforces the rhythms and sometimes offers poetic commentary. Bindu’s excellent 2011 album, Reggaeology (Rogue Art), pushes reggae-jazz experiments a la guitarist Ernest Ranglin into uncharted, freedom-seeking territory—I’ve been waiting for the group to play in town ever since it came out. Peter Margasak

[Recommended]Robert Glasper Quartet
7:25 PM
Robert Glasper is one of jazz’s most skilled, versatile, and progressive pianists, but he grew up immersed in soul and hip-hop. Over the past decade, as he’s climbed the jazz ladder and broken into the New York scene, he’s never let go of the music he loved in high school in Houston. His records for Blue Note have all worked some hip-hop grooves into the swing, and he split 2009’s Double-Booked between his jazz trio and his R&B-oriented band the Experiment. But last year’s Black Radio (Blue Note) is sophisticated R&B from top to bottom, with vocalists on every track—among them Meshell Ndegeocello, Erykah Badu, Lupe Fiasco, Ledisi, and Shafiq Husayn. Beneath its R&B skin, though, the music has a jazz heart. This fall Glasper will release Black Radio 2, but tonight he promises a more jazz-oriented set. He’s joined by bassist Derrick Hodge, reedist and singer Corey Benjamin, and drummer Mark Colenburg. Peter Margasak

Donald Harrison & the Congo Square Nation with special guest Willie Pickens
8:45 PM
Alto saxophonist Donald Harrison is the quintessential New Orleans musician—he’s got a deep soulfulness that he applies equally well to modern and traditional styles, and he’s adept at anything with a good groove, regardless of genre. In the 80s he played in one of the last great lineups of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and more recently he’s made several appearances in the TV series Treme—and this set, like those cameos, ought to showcase his roots in the Crescent City, where he serves as chief of the Mardi Gras Indian tribe once presided over by his father. Harrison leads his working band with guitarist-singer Detroit Brooks, bassist Max Moran, percussionist Darren James, drummer James Dyson, and pianist Zaccai Curtis, joined by three Mardi Gras Indians (spy chief Nelson Thompson and spy boys Anthonase Johnson and Nathaniel Cooper) and Chicago guest pianist Willie Pickens. Peter Margasak