"Doing this music together (last year) was such a joy, and performing it was kind of electrifying," says Vandermark. "To grapple with this music, first getting the arrangements worked up and then trying to play them – it was a lot of fun and a lot of challenge."
For Vandermark and colleagues, the two go hand in hand.
Also worth hearing
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4802 North Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640, USA
806 South Plymouth Court, Chicago, IL 60605, USA
220 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60604, USA
4544 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625, USA
1043 East 43rd Street, Chicago, IL 60653, USA
Tammy McCann: The mighty Chicago singer performs with faculty members of the Music Institute of Chicago, where she serves as artist in residence. This could be a sonic feast, considering the stature of the faculty, which includes trumpeter Victor Garcia, trombonist Audrey Morrison, saxophonist Pat Mallinger, pianist Jeremy Kahn, bassist Stewart Miller and drummer Ernie Adams. 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 4 p.m. Sunday (with the Reunion Jazz Orchestra) and 8 and 10 p.m. Sunday (with the Music Institute of Chicago faculty); $20-$30; 312-360-0234 or jazzshowcase.com
Monterey Jazz Festival: Several major jazz artists gather to mark the 55th anniversary of the celebrated fest: singer Dee Dee Bridgewater, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, saxophonist Chris Potter, pianist Benny Green, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Lewis Nash. 8 p.m. Friday at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.; $27-$60; 312-294-3000 or cso.org
Geof Bradfield: The accomplished Chicago tenor saxophonist also happens to be an imaginative composer, particularly when working in large forms, as in his recent homage to Melba Liston, "Melba!" This time he plays the Sunday-night series of the Hyde Park Jazz Society. 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. Sunday at Room 43, 1043 E. 43d St.; $10; valet parking available; hydeparkjazzsociety.com
Hamid Al-Saadi: An expert on the Iraqi Maqam tradition, the vocalist will be making his American debut, accompanied by Amir ElSaffar and others. 8 p.m. Friday at the Old Town School of Folk Music's Maurer Hall, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave.; $23-$25; 773-728-6000 or oldtownschool.org
To read more from Howard Reich on jazz, go to chicagotribune.com/reich.
Ken Vandermark's Midwest School
When: 9 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Green Mill Jazz Club, 4802 N. Broadway
Tickets: $15; 773-878-5552 or greenmilljazz.com