A rich holiday weekend for jazz in Chicago

Vocalist Spider Saloff

Vocalist Spider Saloff (Chris Sweda, Chicago Tribune / May 23, 2013)

Though Memorial Day obviously stands as a solemn occasion, the holiday weekend surely offer listeners a chance to catch up on concert-going. Among the highlights:

Orbert Davis' Chicago Jazz Philharmonic: The nearly ubiquitous Chicago trumpeter leads his CJP in a world premiere performance of "The Chicago River," a jazz symphony in five movements. Inspired by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams' book "The Lost Panoramas: When Chicago Changed its River and the Land Beyond" (CityFiles Press), Davis' opus tells the dramatic story of the reversal of the Chicago River – and the triumphant and disastrous effects it had on our environment. The images in the coffee table book were drawn from 21,834 previously lost photos shot between 1894 and 1928 documenting the river's reversal. Some of these images will be projected on a screen while the CJP performs "The Chicago River," an epic work that laments natural scenes destroyed by the engineering feat and celebrates the metropolis that grew up in its wake. 8 p.m. Friday at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.; $23-$54; 312-294-3000 or cso.org

Geof Bradfield: The Chicago saxophonist recently took a faculty position at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, yet his profile on Chicago's stages only seems to be rising, thanks partly to frequent performances of his homage to Melba Liston, a suite titled "Melba!" Newly released on Origin Records, this music reaffirms Bradfield's deepening skills as writer, as well as soloist-bandleader. Given the critical acclaim that "Melba!" has received, it's likely that he'll play at least some of this music, though with reduced scoring for drummer George Fludas, pianist Ryan Cohan and bassist Clark Sommers. 5, 6 and 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Andy's Jazz Club, 11 E. Hubbard St.; $10-$15; 312-642-6805 or andysjazzclub.com

Gerald Clayton: When pianist Clayton played the Jazz Showcase a year ago, he acquitted himself as a singular voice of the under-30 generation of jazz musicians. Steering clear of bebop and post-bop clichés that still define a great deal of jazz pianism today, Clayton unfurled original compositions built on extended introductions, strange structures and unusual, jagged, utterly unpredictable themes. He returns to celebrate the release of his newest recording, "Life Forum" (Concord Jazz), and he'll lead a trio. 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 4, 8 and 10 p.m. Sunday; at the Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Ct.; $25-$45; 312-360-0234 or jazzshowcase.com

Frank Catalano: When tenor saxophonist Catalano was a teenager, he earned the admiration of jazz giants such as Louie Bellson and Barrett Deems, who admired his energy, virtuosity and fidelity to the fundamentals of jazz. As if to reference his roots in mainstream, mid-century ideals, Catalano is releasing "Old Skool," in which he revisits standards such as "Bye Bye Blackbird" and "Fly Me to the Moon," while also offering an original tribute to one of his Chicago jazz heroes, Von Freeman, with "Blues for Vonski." Catalano celebrates the release of "Old Skool" with this engagement. 9 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Green Mill Jazz Club, 4802 N. Broadway; $12; 773-878-5552 or greenmilljazz.com

Corey Wilkes: Just before jetting off to play the Tel Aviv Jazz Festival, Chicago trumpeter Wilkes swings into Andy's Jazz Club, where he appears select weekends throughout the year. Because of the chameleonic quality of Wilkes' art, you never can be sure exactly which persona will emerge: bebop stylist, avant-garde firebrand, funk-tinged bandleader, mainstream soloist. Ultimately, though, elements of each of these identities surface whenever Wilkes plays, albeit to varying degrees. In all contexts, through, his musicality underpins his virtuosity, making him an increasingly prominent figure among Chicago jazz trumpeters. 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Andy's Jazz Club, 11 E. Hubbard St.; $15; 312-642-6805 or andysjazzclub.com

Rempis/Abrams/Ra Trio: Since opening early last month, the new venue Constellation has emerged as a focal point for experimental jazz in Chicago, helping to fill an enormous void left by the closures of Fred Anderson's Velvet Lounge on the Near South Side and Marguerite Horberg's HotHouse in the South Loop. Those two spots, of course, never can be replicated, yet drummer-impresario Mike Reed's Constellation is quickly becoming a home for Chicago experimenters and a welcome stopover for touring avant-gardists, as well. Reedist Dave Rempis, bassist Joshua Abrams and drummer Avreeayl Ra form the Rempis/Abrams/Ra Trio, which convenes three of Chicago's most admired improvising musicians. They formed the ensemble last year and will record this performance for future release. 9:30 p.m. Friday at Constellation, 3111 N. Western Ave.; $10; constellation-chicago.com

Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues: Beethoven meets B.B. King? Well, not exactly, but Siegel's cross-genre project – which he launched fully 25 years ago – certainly draws deeply on both classical chamber-music traditions and South Side Chicago blues. The personnel have changed over the years, but Siegel's harmonica, which he plays at the virtuoso level, still stands at the center of this swirl of sound. 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse Ave.; $30; 773-381-4554 or maynestage.com

Spider Saloff: Whether you consider Chicagoan Saloff a cabaret singer with jazz tendencies or a jazz vocalist who flourishes in cabaret repertoire, there's no question that she can sing. Her scat technique remains one of the most appealing facets of her art, particularly when she soars into the stratospheric register of her instrument. Katerina's, an intimate performance space, has become her primary performance spotin Chicago, and she knows how to use this space. She'll be joined by guitarist Steve Ramsdell. 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Katerina's, 1920 W. Irving Park Rd.; $10; 773-348-7592 or katerinas.com

James Sanders' Conjunto: Chicago violinist Sanders brings his Conjunto band to Katerina's the last Saturday of every month, and fans welcome its sweep of Latin-jazz idioms and emphasis on dance rhythm. Better still, Sanders plays with a fidelity to jazz and Afro-Caribbean musical languages one rarely encounters on the violin, which tends to bring out the worst tendencies in string players. Vocalist Papo Santiago brings an unmistakable romanticism to the proceedings. 10 p.m. Saturday at Katerina's, 1920 W. Irving Park Rd.; $10; 773-348-7592 or katerinas.com

Rajiv Halim: The enterprising young saxophonist headlines this installment of the weekly sessions presented by the non-profit Hyde Park Jazz Society at Room 43, one of the most inviting Sunday-night jazz gatherings in the city. Halim will lead a quintet staffed by trumpeter Justin Copeland, guitarist Scott Hesse, bassist Dennis Carroll and drummer Xavier Breaker. 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. Sunday at Room 43, 1043 E. 43d St.; $10; hydeparkjazzsociety.com

Three Trumpet Summit: Andy's Jazz Club, one of the few major venues that will be open on Memorial Day, will present its standing Monday-night feature, a summit spotlighting trumpeters Marques Carroll, Shaun Johnson and a guest to be named fronting a septet. 9 p.m. Monday at Andy's Jazz Club, 11 E. Hubbard St.; $10; 312-642-6805 or andysjazzclub.com

Christopher McBride: While Patricia Barber remains on tour, a variety of guests have been filling in for her long-standing Monday-night engagement. This week it's up-and-coming alto saxophonist McBride leading his Quatuorr de Force. 9 p.m. Monday at the Green Mill Jazz Club, 4802 N. Broadway; $6; 773-878-5552 or greenmilljazz.com

hreich@tribune.com | Twitter @howardreich

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