Remembering Ken Chaney with a major tribute

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Ken Chaney

Ken Chaney (February 14, 2013)

Vocalist Maggie Brown and saxophonist Ari Brown will be guest soloists, as the CJP performs in the city's newest major arts complex, the Logan Center for the Arts.

In suburbia, Jeff Lindberg's Chicago Jazz Orchestra on Saturday will pay homage to a certifiable jazz-soul legend. "A Tribute to Ray Charles" will feature Allan Harris taking the title role, with Dee Alexander, Joan Collaso and Yvonne Gage as the Raelettes.

Obviously, no one ever can replace Charles, his concerts and recordings as indispensable to the jazz repertoire as they are impossible to replicate. But successful tributes have unfolded before, notably one the CJO offered in 2010 at the Hyde Park Jazz Festival. With Perrian Jordan singing Charles' lead vocals and Tammy McCann, Alexander and Collaso as the briefly rejuvenated Raelettes, the spirit of "Hit the Road, Jack," "Unchain My Heart" and other Charles signatures endured.

Jordan originally had been scheduled to sing this performance, but his death last year meant a substitute needed to be found.

Like the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, the CJO recently turned in some of its strongest work, performing an audacious evening of technically challenging music by Frank Zappa last December at Park West.

In essence, both the CJP and the CJO are playing in the afterglow of fine performances – and hoping to keep the momentum going.

"DuSable to Obama: Chicago's Black Metropolis" plays at 2 p.m. Saturday in a one-hour Family Matinee; $5-$10. An evening-length performance will start at 7:30 p.m. Saturday; $10-$35. At the University of Chicago's Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St.; 773-702-2787 or arts.uchicago.ede/content/logan-center or

"The Chicago Jazz Orchestra Presents: A Tribute to Ray Charles" starts at 8 p.m. Saturday at North Central College's Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville; $30-$35; 630-637-7469 or or

Also worth hearing:

Juli Wood. The versatile saxophonist partners with pianist Kelly Brand. Expect music from Wood's recent album, "5 4 3 2 1," albeit in intimate form. 6:30 p.m. Friday at Katerina's, 1920 W. Irving Park Rd.; no cover; 773-348-7592 or

Ava Logan. Chicago vocalists don't often get to play the Jazz Showcase, but the club's emphasis on local musicians during the coldest months has given singer Logan a rare opportunity. She'll front an all-star band staffed by pianist Willie Pickens, drummer Robert Shy and bassist Larry Gray. 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 4, 8 and 10 p.m. Sunday; at the Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Ct.; $20-$30; 312-360-0234 or

Stephane Wrembel. Guitarist Wrembel made his reputation building on the gypsy-jazz innovations of Django Reinhardt, but he says he's also trying to push beyond them into more eclectic, more contemporary fare. He'll lead a quintet. 9 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Green Mill Jazz Club, 4802 N. Broadway; $15; 773-878-5552 or

To read more from Howard Reich on jazz, go to
Twitter @howardreich

Awakening to the Xperience: Tribute to Ken Chaney
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Hamilton Park, 513 W. 72nd St.
Free; 312-427-1676 or
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