Creative Improvisation and Social Practice, 9 to 10:30 p.m. July 10. Arts administrator Kate Dumbleton will converse with jazz musicians Tomeka Reid and Mikel Avery about how jazz can inspire and transform communities.
Von Freeman: Mentoring the Future, 1:45 to 3:15 p.m. July 10. Guitarist Mike Allemana, who played with Freeman for years, discusses Vonski's profound effect on generations of musicians who sat in with him.
Little Brother Montgomery: Swinging the Blues, 1:45 to 3:15 p.m. July 11. Robert Irving III, who worked for years as Miles Davis' pianist and stands among Chicago's most creative keyboardists, discusses the music of bluesman Montgomery — and how deeply it influenced Irving.
A strong New York bow
The British-based pianist Zoe Rahman made an unanticipated New York debut last week, when she was invited to fill in for a previously scheduled artist who had to bow out. So Rahman found herself making her first Manhattan appearance playing at one of the most high-profile venues in the city, Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Though Rahman — the daughter of a Bengali father and British mother — told the crowd last Wednesday night that she was a bit keyed up about the occasion, she needn't have worried. For by digging deeply into musical facets of her cross-cultural heritage, she produced work as richly appealing as it was stylistically distinctive.
Leading a trio, Rahman offered a suite of pieces lush in texture and steeped in Eastern melodic and harmonic structures. Though she developed this music via jazz techniques, its incantatory rhythms and chant-like lines instantly distinguished it, as did Rahman's ultra-sophisticated color palette.
Rahman was joined by drummer Gene Calderazzo (brother of pianist Joey Calderazzo), who gave her plenty of space in which to experiment; and bassist Alec Dankworth (son of saxophonist John Dankworth and singer Cleo Laine), who brought considerable intensity to the proceedings.
Much of this music appears on Rahman's most recent album, "Kindred Spirits," but during this performance she stretched beyond it, as well, particularly in music of JoAnne Brackeen, one of her teachers. In Brackeen's "Friday the 13th," Rahman reveled in stop-start rhythms, abrupt silences and buoyant tempos.
An auspicious debut indeed.
To read more from Howard Reich on jazz, go to chicagotribune.com/reich.