For jazz lovers, a time to give thanks

Chicago jazz listeners have a great deal to be grateful for this Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Among the highlights:

Joey DeFrancesco: In jazz, DeFrancesco stands as undefeated champion of the Hammond B-3 organ, and he proves it with his every Chicago appearance. The velocity and accuracy of his technique, the originality of his arrangements and the sustained soulfulness of his playing make DeFrancesco's work a feast for the ear. For this occasion, he'll be joined by two artists who could alter and enrich the nature of his work. Guitarist Jeff Parker, a former Chicagoan, brings tremendous depth of expression and economy of gesture to his work in a variety of jazz languages, from mainstream to experimental. Drummer George Fludas swings mightily on all occasions, and DeFrancesco's gutsy approach seems likely to inspire him. The opportunity to hear DeFrancesco in this setting could make this a highlight of the week. 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 4, 8 and 10 p.m. Sunday; at the Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Ct.; $25-$40; 312-360-0234 or

Willie Pickens: Always a formidable pianist, Chicagoan Pickens somehow seems only to get more powerful and eloquent with each passing season. Anyone who attended the last night of the 2013 Chicago Jazz Festival experienced the immense scope of Pickens' work as he sat in with New Orleans saxophonist Donald Harrison's band and then outdid himself with a galvanic performance of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps." For this weekend's residency at the Green Mill Jazz Club, Pickens will be leading a quintet, his all-over-the-keys pianism augmented by Pharez Whitted's trumpet, Todd Herbert's tenor saxophone, Larry Gray's bass and Robert Shy's drums, a high-impact ensemble if ever there were one. 9 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Green Mill Jazz Club, 4802 N. Broadway; $12; 773-878-5552 or

Eric Schneider: At last, the veteran Chicago reedist is getting the kind of attention he has richly deserved for decades. His performance tempo has picked up dramatically during the past few seasons, thanks to his work with Jeff Lindberg's Chicago Jazz Orchestra and an array of far-flung Chicago bands. Regardless of what else he's doing, however, Schneider always returns to the late-late-show Friday nights at the Green Mill Jazz Club, where he leads a house band featuring pianist Dennis Luxion, bassist Steve Hashimoto and drummer Rick Shandling. Visiting jazz stars who are passing through town often sit in, as do aspiring musicians who want to play with the master. Bring your horn, if you dare. 1:30 a.m. to 4 a.m. Saturday (late Friday night) at the Green Mill Jazz Club, 4802 N. Broadway; no cover; 773-878-5552 or

Alfonso Ponticelli and Swing Gitan: Yes, guitarist Ponticelli has held forth Wednesday nights at the Green Mill for ages, but he also works other spots on select occasions. The Thanksgiving holiday week seems an ideal time to catch Ponticelli's brand of gypsy jazz, an irrepressibly joyous music loosely modeled on Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli's Quintet of the Hot Club of France. Not that Ponticelli and Swing Gitan mimic this music. On the contrary, they keep it fresh with unconventional arrangements original compositions and a more contemporary harmonic palette. Even so, there's no mistaking the chugging rhythms and ebullient melodic lines inspired by Reinhardt and Grappelli. 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Andy's Jazz Club, 11 E. Hubbard St.; $15; 312-642-6805 or

David Edelfelt: All right, Edelfelt isn't exactly a jazz singer and doesn't pretend to be. But he's top flight as a cabaret artist, and jazz listeners who value a song well sung will appreciate Edelfelt's work. His holiday show, "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year," will address classic repertoire, as well as more recent work by Jason Robert Brown, Elizabeth Doyle and Carla Gordon. Much of the music will be drawn from Edelfelt's new album, "Love is Born at Christmas." He'll be joined by pianist-vocalist Beckie Menzie, a one-woman musical variety show in her own right. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 7 p.m. Sunday; at Davenport's, 1383 N. Milwaukee Ave.; $18 plus two-drink minimum; 773-278-1830 or

Juli Wood and Kelly Brand: Through the years, saxophonist Wood has shown herself to be a consistently versatile player. She has produced darkly burnished tone on tenor saxophone and urgent lines on soprano in pianist Bob Dogan's band, and she's a formidable player on baritone, as well. This time she'll partner with pianist Brand, a context that, by definition, will give Wood plenty of room in which to stretch out. 6:30 p.m. Friday at Katerina's, 1920 W. Irving Park Rd.; no cover; 773-348-7592 or

Muriel Anderson: Each year at this time, former Chicagoan Anderson returns home to play her "Saturday After Thanksgiving Concert," a performance that – like all of Anderson's work – encompasses folk, Americana and elements of jazz. For this occasion, she'll be joined by multi-instrumentalist Tom Shinness as she celebrates the release of her double album "Nightlight Daylight." 8 p.m. Saturday at Downers Grove North High School, 4436 Main St., Downers Grove; $15-$22;

Joel Paterson and the Modern Sounds: The name of guitarist Paterson's unabashedly retro trio may be a touch ironic, yet there's a palpable freshness that this ensemble brings to repertoire of mid-20th century America. Jazz, swing, blues, rockabilly and other sounds course through the music of this band, Paterson sharing his love of blues-based repertoire with bassist Beau Sample and drummer Alex Hall. These musicians overlap in other ensembles dedicated to nurturing historic musical forms, and our city's musical landscape is enriched by their efforts. 10 p.m. Saturday at Katerina's, 1920 W. Irving Park Rd.; $10; 773-348-7592 or

Guillermo Gregorio Ensemble: The adventurous Argentine composer, long based in Chicago, makes music that's extraordinarily subtle in color, delicate in voicing and unconventional in harmony. In essence, he presides over an intricate fabric of sound that transcends familiar concepts of rhythm and chordal structure. His ensemble will feature Tom Curry on tuba, Daniel J. Kempkers and Lilianna Wosko on cellos and Brian Labycz on electronics. Also on the bill: Dokuro, a duo exploring electronics and altered sounds. 8:30 p.m. Sunday at Constellation, 3111 N. Western Ave.; $10;

Anaphora: The chamber ensemble offers its annual "Sounds of Chicago" concert featuring the A/B Duo and including music of Janice Misurell-Mitchell. 2 p.m. Sunday at the Green Mill Jazz Club, 4802 N. Broadway; $5; 773-878-5552 or

Wildeman/Baker/Maunu/Niekrasz: The weekly series at the Hungry Brain continues with a quartet staffed by bassist Albert Wildeman, guitarist Peter Maunu, pianist Jim Baker and drummer John Niekrasz. The second set will feature Pedway, with alto saxophonist Caroline Davis, bassist Matt Golombisky and drummer Quin Kirchner. 10 p.m. Sunday at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont Ave.; $7;

To read more from Howard Reich on jazz go to

Twitter @howardreich


More music