Kevin Nabors
Kevin Nabors Credit: Michael Jackson

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Young Jazz Lions Stage

Noon The Civic and Arts Jazz Ensemble

1 PM Lincoln Park High School Jazz Ensemble with special guest composer Ari Brown

2 PM Evanston High School Jazz Ensemble with special guest Junior Mance

3 PM Young Jazz Lions Jam Session

Jazz on Jackson

Noon Mike Allemana’s Come Sunday Guitarist Mike Allemana, who first reached many ears in Von Freeman’s New Apartment Lounge group, is an immensely gifted player with a deep harmonic bag and a grounded sense of adventure. This as-yet-albumless band, whose members all teach at the Old Town School of Folk Music, features four vocalists and plays Allemana’s hybrid jazz-gospel arrangements. —JC

1:10 PM Solo Piano featuring Ben Paterson and Yoko Noge Every year the festival pairs two local pianists, one newcomer and one vet, to play solo sets back to back. Though Ben Paterson is young, as a sideman to octogenarian Von Freeman he’s been absorbing decades of jazz lore, and he uses it to season his fleet, melodic playing. Yoko Noge is a specialist; whether she’s covering Ellington or evoking her native Japan, it all comes out sounding like the blues. —BM

2:20 PM James Falzone’s Klang: The Goodman Project Clarinetist James Falzone, leader of Klang, clearly has a thing for the trio music of Jimmy Giuffre—a gorgeous, austere, and distinctive variety of chamber jazz that’s focused on the ensemble rather than the soloist. That’s not to say the group’s excellent studio debut, the recent Tea Music (Allos Documents), has a lick of slavishness about it, just that you can tell what their likely jumping-off point was: Falzone, bassist Jason Roebke, drummer Tim Daisy, and vibist Jason Adasiewicz, all of whom contribute tunes, function as a unit, forming an array of gripping unison patterns and abstract contrapuntal lines. For this performance Falzone will adapt that sound to pay homage to swing king Benny Goodman with a mix of originals and Goodman-associated classics. Frank Rosaly will replace Daisy and guitarist Dave Miller will sit in, playing Charlie Christian to Falzone’s Goodman. —PM

3:30 PM“New Apartment Jam” with Von Freeman Every Tuesday at the New Apartment Lounge on East 75th, tenor saxophone colossus Von Freeman plays host to a bona fide jam session. After an hour-plus set with his smoking quartet, Freeman starts inviting up his “horses,” as he calls the singers and players lining the wall of the club. Any variability in quality is more than offset by the consistently great vibe, which with any luck will carry over onto the festival’s outdoor stage. —JC

Jazz & Heritage Stage

12:30 PM Kevin Nabors Quintet One of the most exciting young saxophonists in Chicago, Kevin Nabors has studied with the likes of Von Freeman and Ari Brown and played in Ernest Dawkins’s Chicago 12; recently he made a big splash with Corey Wilkes & Abstrakt Pulse. On that group’s debut, Cries From tha Ghetto (Pi), whose mix of postbop, free jazz, and pretty balladry harks back to Blue Note’s more outre 60s releases, Nabors displays a strong bond with the trumpeter and summons the spirit of Joe Henderson with his gritty, authoritative solos. I haven’t heard him lead a band yet, but this quintet ought to sound familiar: featuring Wilkes, guitarist Scott Hesse, bassist Junius Paul, and drummer Isaiah Spencer, it’s basically Abstrakt Pulse with Nabors in the driver’s seat. —PM

2 PM “Percussion Discussion” with Art Burton Though underrepresented on disc—he’s turned up a few recordings by saxophonists Vandy Harris and Ari Brown and flutist Nicole Mitchell—drummer Art “Turk” Burton is a respected AACM veteran who once played in Muhal Richard Abrams’s big band. He’s also a history professor at South Suburban College and has written a couple books about African-Americans in the wild west. His experience as a teacher makes him doubly qualified to lead this performance and lecture on the role of drums in jazz. —PM

3:30 PM Kelly Brand Nextet Veteran Chicago pianist Kelly Brand plays regularly around town, but many of her gigs are the kind where she trots out standards to the accompaniment of clinking cocktail glasses. This afternoon, though, she gets to strut her own stuff. On The Door (Origin), the latest album from her fine working band, the Nextet, her straight-ahead compositions and arrangements are rooted in 60s hard bop but have a softer, more melodic feel. This tendency to sweetness turns cloying on the three tracks with singer Mari Anne Jayme, but elsewhere the quintet sounds strong and vital: longtime trumpeter Art Davis and bassist Kelly Sill (Brand’s husband) seem energized by the presence of resourceful saxophonist Geof Brad­field and young drummer Jon Deitemyer. —PM

Petrillo Music Shell

5 PM Archie Shepp Quartet featuring Willie Pickens, Avery Sharpe, and Ronnie Burrage Back in the 60s Archie Shepp’s sandpapery tenor tone, uncompromising rhetoric, and association with John Coltrane tied him to the “new thing,” as free jazz was called at the time, even as his unironic rendering of Ellington’s “Prelude to a Kiss” on 1965’s Fire Music confirmed his engagement with jazz history. His latest album, Phat Jam in Milano (Dawn of Freedom), experiments with a newer thing—hip-hop—but the straight-ahead players behind him tonight, who include Chicago pianist Willie Pickens, should keep him rooted in tradition. —BM

6 PM A tribute to Art Tatum featuring Buddy DeFranco and Johnny O’Neal This quartet, fronted by brilliant clarinetist Buddy DeFranco and pianist Johnny O’Neal, pays homage to pianist Art Tatum, one jazz’s most unique and recognizable figures—at his peak in the 1940s he could encapsulate jazz history with his concise solo performances, and his infamous right-hand runs were like mini symphonies. DeFranco, who almost single-handedly retooled jazz clarinet for bebop at the close of the swing era, recorded some wonderful Norman Granz-produced sides with Tatum in early 1956, just nine months before the pianist died from uremia. O’Neal was born that same year, and though Tatum is a key influence on his style, the closest he could get to playing with the master was portraying him in the 2004 Ray Charles biopic Ray. —PM

7:10 PM Dee Alexander There’s not much Dee Alexander can’t do. She’s as resourceful a vocal improviser as I’ve ever heard, with astonishing control of pitch and modulation, and she’s just as adept at working a standard as she is at threading wordless sounds and abstract melodic shapes into a loose, freewheeling record like last year’s Blissful (Rogue Art), a knockout session led by drummer Hamid Drake. On her first properly released album, Wild Is the Wind (Blujazz), she covers her entire dizzying range in a rock-solid set of tightly focused tunes, displaying both awesome technique and rare discipline and making a strong case for herself as one of the most exciting jazz singers on the planet. On the title track she opens by shaping the sorrowful melody with a light touch; even more impressive, her performance stays just as nuanced when she swells into a huge crescendo. And her detours into pure sound—like her imitations of violin pizzicato on the reggaefied ballad “Rossignol”—are never self-indulgent, displaying an economy and focus I wish more scat singers would embrace. Tonight Alexander is joined by the Sirens Orchestra, whose ten-piece lineup for the occasion includes pianist Miguel de la Cerna, violinist James Sanders, cellist Tomeka Reid, saxist Ari Brown, and bassist Harrison Bankhead. —PM

8:30 PM The Arthur Hoyle Orchestra conducted by Muhal Richard Abrams The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians helped open up a space where African-American musicians could realize their art without yielding control over its presentation, but that wasn’t its only mission. Through education and activism, the collective sought to nurture creativity within the community from which it had sprung. Pianist Muhal Richard Abrams served as a mentor and facilitator throughout the AACM’s early years, and now, with his composition Spiralview, which was commissioned for this festival, he salutes another community organizer made good: Barack Obama. Abrams’s writing is characterized by a nonhierarchical openness to influences as disparate as stride piano and European concert music. Trumpeter Art Hoyle, who’s played with both Tony Bennett and Sun Ra, convened this big band, which counts AACM ringers like George Lewis, Harrison Bankhead, and Roscoe Mitchell among its key soloists. —BM

Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Afterfest Shows