Jazz fireworks for a holiday weekend

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 Pharez Whitted

Pharez Whitted (Terrence Antonio James, Chicago Tribune / January 6, 2011)

The jazz tempo does not slow for the holiday weekend.

Among the highlights:

Paul Marinaro: Connoisseurs of music in Chicago long have known that Marinaro owns one of the most plush and malleable bass-baritones to be heard today. But it wasn't until last year that Marinaro began to reach a wider public with the release of his uncommonly effective debut recording, "Without a Song." The album won him national radio airplay and engagements in high-profile rooms, and the momentum only seems to be building. Certainly few jazz singers get a prime-time, weekend-long run in Chicago's top jazz spot, the Jazz Showcase, a temple of bebop that prizes virtuoso instrumental soloists above all else. Marinaro clearly deserves this return to the Showcase, where he unveiled "Without a Song" in 2013. He'll lead a quintet. 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 4, 8 and 10 p.m. Sunday; at the Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Court; $20-$35; 312-360-0234 or jazzshowcase.com

Ryan Cohan: Equally imposing as composer and pianist, Cohan has penned some ingeniously effective jazz suites, most notably "The River," a vividly pictorial reflection on an African tour he led six years ago under the auspices of the U.S. State Department. The strength of such work has won Cohan a spot as a Feature Film Fellow at the Sundance Institute's Music and Sound Design Labs, which he'll attend later this month. The occasion will afford him (and others) a chance to study with master film composers. Before Cohan takes off, however, he'll lead his trio in two evenings of sets, and the chances that themes from the "The River" and other original works will bubble up are quite good. Then he's gone for the next few weeks. 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Andy's Jazz Club, 11 E. Hubbard St.; $10-$15; 312-642-6805 or andysjazzclub.com

Pharez Whitted: The powerhouse Chicago trumpeter typically presides over the Sunday-night jam session at Andy's Jazz Club, but this time he steps into a more formal role, leading the Pharez Whitted Group. Whitted belongs to a tradition of herculean trumpeters who can break the fortissimo sound barrier at will, among them Maynard Ferguson, Jon Faddis and Arturo Sandoval. Each has expressed individual musical sensibilities on the largest canvas imaginable, from Ferguson's soaring lines to Faddis' stratospheric high notes to Sandoval's Afro-Cuban rhythms. Whitted brings to the stage a deep conversance with past and present jazz dialects, which typically makes for thrilling music. 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Andy's Jazz Club, 11 E. Hubbard St.; $15; 312-642-6805 or andysjazzclub.com

Chris Foreman: A one-man band if ever there were one, organist Foreman plays the audience nearly as well as he does the Hammond B-3 organ, which is quite well indeed. Ensconced behind the bar at the Green Mill, Foreman banters with his listeners, soliciting requests, accepting some, whimsically rejecting others. When he puts his fingers on the keys, listeners hear some of the most soulful utterances you'll encounter from a jazz organist these days, Foreman's earthy sense of swing driving the music forward at all tempos. The intimacy of the setting, with listeners gathered closely around the performer, adds to the mystique of the occasion. And the admission price – free – is hard to beat. 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Green Mill Jazz Club, 4802 N. Broadway; free; 773-878-5552 or greenmilljazz.com

Kurt Elling: The former Chicago singer – at his best one of the most technically accomplished in jazz – returns to the Green Mill Jazz Club, where his career took flight a couple of decades ago. Back then, Elling was singing with considerably more virtuosity and artistic daring than in recent years. Even so, on some nights Elling can be more adventurous than on others. Here's hoping this will be one of those times. He'll lead a quintet sans pianist Laurence Hobgood, who helped shape Elling's work in concert and on record since the beginning; the two artists parted ways late last year. 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

Sabertooth Organ Quartet: Holiday weekends enable listeners to stay out late, and there are few more enduring wee-hours attractions than Sabertooth. For more than two decades, the band has obliterated the dividing line between Saturday night and Sunday morning, playing from dark till almost sun-up. "Some people thought we were insane, doing this gig from midnight to 5 a.m.," saxophonist Pat Mallinger told me in 2012, as the band was preparing to mark its 1,000th performance at the Mill. "But we always looked at it as a blessing, and we never took it for granted. We've always looked at it like it's a vestige of a jazz scene that once was, where cats would play until the wee hours of the morning." And Sabertood plays very hard, Mallinger is joined by saxophonist Cameron Pfiffner, Hammond B-3 organist Pete Benson and drummer Ted Sirota. Midnight Saturday till 5 a.m. Sunday at the Green Mill Jazz Club, 4802 N. Broadway; $5 from midnight to 2 a.m.; no cover from 2 to 5 a.m.; 773-878-5552 or greenmilljazz.com

Judy Roberts and Greg Fishman: Singer-pianist Roberts and saxophonist-flutist Fishman, her husband, long ago conjured an uncommonly congenial atmosphere at Chambers, a classic supper club evoking an earlier era. And though Roberts moved to Arizona a few years ago, her summertime residencies back in her hometown have enabled her and Fishman to rekindle that feeling. Enjoy it while it lasts. 5 to 9 p.m. Sundays at Chambers, 6881 N. Milwaukee Ave., Niles; no cover; 847-647-8282 or thechambersonline.com

Joel Paterson Trio: For those who still haven't had enough music, the late-night Sunday shows at the Green Mill bring the weekend to an atmospheric close. Guitarist Joel Paterson leads the weekly Soul Jazz Night at the Mill, with an emphasis on classic organ trio repertoire of the 1950s and '60s. 11 p.m. Sunday to 2 a.m. Monday at the Green Mill Jazz Club, 4802 N. Broadway; $4; 773-878-5552 or greenmilljazz.com

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


Twitter @howardreich

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