From Benny Golson to jazz-tinged Beatles, a busy weekend

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Tomeka Reid

Cellist Tomeka Reid, seen here during a Hyde Park Jazz Fest performance. (John J. Kim, Chicago Tribune / September 27, 2013)

This will be a brisk weekend in Chicago jazz:

Benny Golson: It isn't often that you get to hear a musician whose compositions have been central to the jazz canon for decades, but, at 85, saxophonist Golson still tours to play some of the most beloved tunes ever penned. "Whisper Not," "Along Came Betty," "Stablemates" and "Killer Joe" are just some of Golson's admired works, and, on many evenings, he shares a story or two on how they came to be written. More important, there's always something to be learned when a composer plays his own music, revealing insights on phrasing, accent, tempo and tone. That makes this engagement by Golson essential listening. He'll be joined by a superb Chicago rhythm section, with bassist Larry Gray, drummer Dana Hall and former Chicagoan Michael Kocour on piano. 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 4 and 8 p.m. Sunday; at the Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Court; $20-$35; 312-360-0234 or jazzshowcase.com

Matt Wilson: A nimble drummer and creative bandleader, Wilson returns to his primary venue in Chicago, the Green Mill, to celebrate the release of his 11th album as leader, "Gathering Call" (Palmetto Records). This sharp, engaging, sometimes edgy release features Wilson's quartet with an old friend as guest, the protean keyboardist John Medeski. Ideas flow easily between pianist Medeski and the band, thanks partly to the wide-ranging beauties of Wilson's compositions. Alas, Medeski won't be appearing at this engagement, but Wilson's tight-knit quartet will be, the drummer joined by reedist Jeff Lederer, cornetist Kirk Knuffke and bassist Chris Lightcap. 9 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Green Mill Jazz Club, 4802 N. Broadway; $15; 773-878-5552 or greenmilljazz.com

Marquis Hill: The Chicago trumpeter has been on a steady upswing: Last year he won the $10,000 first prize in the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition; released his third album as leader, the aptly named "The Poet"; and joined the music faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Not bad for a musician still several years shy of 30. For this engagement, he'll lead a quintet; expect muscular playing with a deeply lyrical core. 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Andy's Jazz Club, 11 E. Hubbard St.; $15; 312-642-6805 or andysjazzclub.com

Neal Alger: A Chicago guitarist who says a great deal with a few, well-chosen notes, Alger for years turned in eloquent, high-toned work opposite singer-pianist Patricia Barber and, more recently, with vocalist Typhanie Monique. But Alger also stands as an intriguing bandleader in his own right, having devoted considerable energy to exploring the catalogue of compositions identified with the Blue Note record label from the 1950s through the '70s. More recently, he stepped into the role of singer-songwriter in his band Needles in the Red. This time, Alger will lead a quartet at Andy's, suggesting that the Blue Note repertoire and related music will be back in the forefront. Sets from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Andy's Jazz Club, 11 E. Hubbard St.; $10-$15; 312-642-6805 or andysjazzclub.com

Keefe Jackson and Jason Adasiewicz; Mikolaj Trzaska and Tim Daisy: The adventurous programming at Constellation continues apace, as in this double bill of two noteworthy duos. Reedist Jackson and vibraphonist Adasiewicz are two immensely creative Chicago players in a city crowded with them; given the opportunity to respond directly to one another, the sonic possibilities are considerable. Polish reedist Trzaska and Chicago drummer Daisy celebrate the release of their album "In This Moment" (Relay Records), recorded last year when both were in town playing in Ken Vandermark's Resonance Ensemble; this date kicks off a national tour. 9:30 p.m. Friday at Constellation, 3111 N. Western Ave.; $15; constellation-chicago.com

Tomeka Reid: A cellist of wide musical interests and deepening achievement as composer and improviser, Reid has been an increasingly vital contributor to new music in Chicago. Her work as soloist and composer has benefited audiences in far-flung settings, including high-profile venues such as the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park and the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, as well as unassuming but indispensable neighborhood venues. Here she'll perform in a promising ensemble with three noted figures: guitarist Mary Halvorson, bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Tomas Fujiwara. 9:30 p.m. Saturday at Constellation, 3111 N. Western Ave.; $10; constellation-chicago.com

Anthony Molinaro: Chicago does not lack for gifted jazz or classical pianists, but keyboardists equally conversant in both musical worlds are a far rarer species. Molinaro – who won the Naumburg International Piano Competition in 1997 – not only flourishes in dual languages but has a knack for intertwining them. He has proved the point with various ventures, particularly in music of George Gershwin. Now Molinaro has pushed deeper into cross-genre experimentation with "Here, There and Everywhere," his affecting solo treatment of music of the Beatles. Molinaro brings both jazz and classical influences to landmarks such as "Something," "Yesterday" and "The Long and Winding Road." He'll play the complete contents of the album for the first time in concert in these two performances. 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday at PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Ave.; $10-$20; 312-291-0291 or pianofortefoundation.org

Spider Saloff: A singer who finds commonalities among jazz, cabaret and musical-theater repertoire, Saloff returns to the intimate room that has become a home for her in recent years. The short distance between performer and audience serves the music well, enabling listeners to savor the suppleness of Saloff's instrument and the high-flying spirit of her scat singing. 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Katerina's, 1920 W. Irving Park Rd.; $10; 773-348-7592 or katerinas.com

John Fedchock: Evanston long has been a cauldron of jazz activity, and the suburb's jazz culture seeps into its schools as well. The 11th annual Evanston Township High School Jazz Festival underscores the point, with Fedchock, a formidable trombonist, as the event's featured soloist. He'll be joined by pianist Jeremy Kahn, bassist Larry Kohut and drummer Bob Rummage on a bill that also will feature the high school's Jazz Ensemble. 7 p.m. Saturday at Evanston Township High School, 1600 Dodge Ave., Evanston; $15-$20; 847-424-7848 or ethsjazz.com

Keb 'Mo: The newly remodeled McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage, known by its fans simply as the Mac, showcases its remodeled quarters with blues singer-songwriter Keb 'Mo. The center now holds a 782-seat Performance Hall, 184-seat Playhouse Theatre, 70-seat Studio Theatre and 1,200-seat capacity outdoor Patio Stage. 8 p.m. Saturday at the McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage, Fawell and Park Boulevards, Glen Ellyn; $40-$50; 630-942-4000 or atthemac.org

To read more from Howard Reich on jazz, go to chicagotribune.com/reich.

hreich@tribune.com

Twitter @howardreich

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