11:48 AM EDT, September 26, 2013
It started out as a seemingly quixotic attempt by a group of South Side jazz lovers to celebrate the music – and it has become one of Chicago's most ingeniously presented jazz gatherings.
The seventh annual Hyde Park Jazz Festival, running Saturday and Sunday, as always will encompass such unconventional settings as Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House and Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, as well as the University of Chicago's mighty Logan Center for the Arts and other locales.
All events are free, but some performances require tickets that will be available at the box office of the University of Chicago's Logan Center, 915 E. 60th St., starting at particular times noted below.
Following is an annotated guide to the most promising concerts. For more information, visit hydeparkjazzfestival.org.
Willie Pickens Trio: If you attended the last night of the Chicago Jazz Festival, you heard Chicago pianist Pickens play one of the most volcanic solos of the event, the musician reinventing John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" as if Coltrane's energy had been injected into Art Tatum's virtuosity. So any chance to hear Pickens ought to be seized; he'll be assisted by bassist Larry Gray and drummer Robert Shy. 2 p.m. at the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Pl.
John Wojciechowski Quartet: A top-notch saxophonist who appears in more ensembles than perhaps even he can recall, Wojciechowski steps into the spotlight as bandleader, joined by pianist Ryan Cohan, bassist Clark Sommers and drummer Dana Hall. 2:30 p.m. at the Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood Ave.
Maggie Brown Quartet: The life, music and inexhaustible spirit of singer-songwriter Oscar Brown, Jr., burns intensely in the work of his daughter Maggie, who brings ardor to her father's tunes and other works. Over the years, Brown's voice has deepened and darkened, giving her that much more impact as interpreter. 4 p.m. at Little Black Pearl, 1060 E. 47th St.
Mike Reed's People, Places & Things: In this band, drummer Reed and colleagues re-examine long-forgotten chapters of Chicago jazz history and refract it through a 21st century sensibility. Reed is joined by bassist Jason Roebke, alto saxophonist Greg Ward and tenor saxophonist Tim Haldeman. 3:15 p.m. at the Wagner Stage on the Midway Plaisance, between Ellis and Woodlawn Avenues.
Ari Brown Quintet: No one is going to replace Chicago saxophone titans Von Freeman and Fred Anderson, but Brown nobly represents many of the tenor traditions they embodied. The depth of his sound, the adventurousness of his spirit and the blues streak in his playing share a great deal with previous Chicago tenor stars, but Brown's musical fingerprints remain his own. 3:30 p.m. at the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Pl.
Frank Rosaly's Green and Gold: The technically lithe and stylistically imaginative drummer has pursued an unusual but promising path in Green and Gold, which addresses music of Prince Lasha and Sonny Simmons. Rosaly's collaborators are reedist Cameron Pfiffner, alto saxophonist Nick Mazzarella, cellist Tomeka Reid and bassist Anton Hatwich. 5 p.m. at Logan Center's Penthouse, 915 E. 60th St. (Ticket required and will be available at the Logan Center box office starting at 4 p.m., until tickets are gone.)
Douglas Ewart & Tri-Quasar: The tremendously inventive multi-instrumentalist hasn't lived in Chicago in decades but, in a way, remains an integral part of the scene, thanks to periodic appearances of singular character. He perform with poet Mankwe Ndosi and bassist-cellist Harrison Bankhead. 5 and 6 p.m. at Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, 5757 S. Woodlawn Ave. (Limited seating on first-come, first-served basis.)
Gerald Clayton Trio: Few pianists walk the line between tradition and innovation as invitingly as Clayton. Not yet 30, Clayton stands as one of the great new voices on the instrument, his music at once complex yet accessible, the pianist aware of certain conventions but unintimidated by them. He'll share the stage with bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Kendrick Scott. 7 p.m. at the Logan Center's Performance Hall, 915 E. 60th St. (Ticket required and will be available at the Logan Center box office starting at 5:30 p.m., until tickets are gone.)
Jeff Parker Trio: Whether he's working in experimental, mainstream, big band or pop-oriented settings, guitarist Parker says more with a few well-chosen notes than many of his colleagues. His move to Los Angeles was a loss for Chicago, where he had been based for years, but Parker makes a welcome return with drummer Chad Taylor and bassist Joshua Abrams. 7 p.m. in the University of Chicago's International House, in the Assembly Hall, 1414 E. 59th St.
Dana Hall Quintet: A technically virtuosic drummer with intellectual heft to match, Hall fronts many groups, and this one powered his dramatic recording debut as bandleader, "Into the Light." Each member stands as a formidable soloist in his own right, with Bruce Barth on piano, Rodney Whitaker on bass, Terell Stafford on trumpet and Tim Warfield, Jr. on saxophone. 8:15 p.m. at the Wagner Stage on the Midway Plaisance, between Ellis and Woodlawn Avenues.
Ken Vandermark Ensemble: The protean musical inventor and MacArthur Fellowship winner brings his Music of the Midwest School project, a fascinating venture that explores scores of Roscoe Mitchell, Anthony Braxton and Henry Threadgill. Each of these iconoclasts has pursued an individual path but all shared Midwestern perspectives. The all-star group will feature multi-reedist Vandermark with vibist Jason Adasiewicz, cornetist Josh Berman, trombonist Jeb Bishop, percussionist Tim Daisy, bassist Nick Macri, violinist Jen Paulson and saxophonists Nick Mazzarella, Dave Rempis and Mars Williams. 9:30 p.m. at the Logan Center's Performance Hall, 915 E. 60th St.
Tomeka Reid Quartet: An increasingly prominent soloist, bandleader, composer, activist, impresario and educator on Chicago's creative-music scene, Reid will collaborate here with like-minded innovators: bassist Joshua Abrams, guitarist Jeff Parker and drummer Frank Rosaly. 9:30 p.m. at the University of Chicago's International House, in the Assembly Hall, 1414 E. 59th St.
Anat Cohen and Douglas Lora Duo: Cohen, a sublimely expressive and versatile clarinetist, has performed often in Chicago in various contexts, but never with Brazilian guitarist-vocalist Lora. They'll offer their intimate dialogue in a setting that can be acoustically challenging, though if anyone can tame it, it's Cohen. 11 p.m. at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave.
Dee Alexander: A recent hit at the Newport Jazz Festival, singer Alexander has been celebrated at home as a Chicago treasure for years, thanks to the technical acuity, emotional openness and stylistic breadth of her work. She'll front a quartet staffed by pianist Miguel de la Cerna, bassist Harrison Bankhead and drummer Ernie Adams. 7 p.m. at the Wagner Stage on the Midway Plaisance, between Ellis and Woodlawn Avenues.
Chicago Jazz Orchestra with Tammy McCann: In recent years, McCann has established herself as one of Chicago's most dynamic, full-throated vocalists. Nowhere does she sound better than in front of a big band, and she'll be singing with one of the best: Jeff Lindberg's Chicago Jazz Orchestra. 5:30 p.m. at the West Stage on the Midway, near Ellis Avenue
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