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Jazz roaring ahead for the New Year

Howard Reich

2:52 PM CST, January 3, 2013

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The New Year has just begun, but the jazz scene never settles down. Among the weekend's highlights:

Rob Mazurek: The enterprising Chicago cornetist has produced remarkable work with his aptly named Exploding Star Orchestra, which conjures a constellation of other worldly sounds, colors and textures. This time, Mazurek has convened members of the large ensemble for his Pulsar Quartet, which celebrates the release of the album "Stellar Pulsations" (Delmark Records). Mazurek will be joined by pianist Angelica Sanchez, bassist Matthew Lux and percussionist John Herndon, all deeply conversant with Mazurekian ways of improvising ephemeral, translucent sound. 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

Bobby Lewis: A Chicago trumpeter of unusual lyricl grace, Lewis famously performed with Peggy Lee, as well as with Tony Bennett, Jack Teagarden, Ramsey Lewis and other major figures too numerous to cite. If you've ever heard the groups Forefront or Ears, you're familiar with Lewis' work. If not, be prepared for some of the most silken lines to come out of a horn. For this engagement, Lewis will lead his quintet, with saxophonist Pat Mallinger, pianist Jim Ryan, bassist Jim Cox and drummer Jeff Stitetly. 8 and 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; 4, 8 and 10 p.m. Sunday; at the Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Ct.; $20; 312-360-0234 or jazzshowcase.com

Makaya McCraven: The powerful, propulsive drummer has made an impression in the few years he has lived here. To date, McCraven has collaborated with such prominent Chicagoans as guitarist Bobby Broom, pianist Robert Irving III, trumpeter Corey Wilkes and saxophonist Ari Brown, among others, and he has led an ambitious, evening-length program at Millennium Park's "Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz" series. He'll lead the Makaya McCraven Group. 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Andy's Jazz Club, 11 E. Hubbard St.; $15; 312-642-6805 or andysjazzclub.com

Eric Schneider: Having just played a three-night "Battle of the Saxes" with former Chicago tenor man Edward Petersen, Schneider returns to his standing engagement: the late-late show Friday nights (early Saturday mornings) at the Green Mill. You never know what's going to happen here, with various musicians dropping by to sit in. Schneider leads the house band, which includes pianist Dennis Luxion, bassist Steve Hashimoto and drummer Rick Shandling. 1:30 to 4 a.m. Saturday at the Green Mill Jazz Club, 4802 N. Broadway; no cover; 773-878-5552 or greenmilljazz.com

International Contemporary Ensemble: This enterprising organization presents a characteristically inventive program: "Shadowgraph: Octets by Franz Schubert and George Lewis." How many other organizations invite direct comparisons between classical music of the 19th century and jazz repertoire of the 21st? Schubert's epic work pushes at the boundaries of romantic chamber repertoire, while Lewis' builds on these achievements by embracing jazz, avant-garde and computer-generated sounds. Chicagoans know Lewis for his contributions to the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and his definitive history of that organization, "A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music." ICE will perform Lewis' "Shadowgraph 5" and "Artificial Life 2007." 3 p.m. Sunday in Preston Bradley Hall of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St.; free; 312-744-6630 or iceorg.org

Irvin Pierce: The Sunday-night series presented by the non-profit Hyde Park Jazz Society continues with saxophonist Irvin Pierce, who will play a setting that's both a listening session and a neighborhood get-together. 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. Sunday at Room 43, 1043 E. 43d St.; valet parking available; $10; hydeparkjazzsociety.com

Bill O'Connell's Chicago Skyliners: The big band tradition still flourishes at FitzGerald's, in Berwyn, which features the music on Sundays and elsewhere on its calendar. O'Connell's Chicago Skyliners have been playing the club for more than two decades, so it's appropriate that the band will kick off the New Year's Sunday series. The Skyliners play music of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, Artie Shaw and other vintage masters, as well as more recent fare. 6 p.m. Sunday at FitzGerald's, 6615 W. Roosevelt Rd., Berwyn; $5-$10; 708-788-2118 or fitzgeraldsnightclub.com

The New Andy's Jazz Jam: The rejuvenated Sunday-night sessions at Andy's Jazz Club have been generating increasing interest, with seasoned musicians such as bassist Dennis Carroll mentoring younger musicians in concert. The club hastens to note on its web site, however, that "this is not an open mic night or amateur night. There are sing-along and karaoke bars in the neighborhood for those looking for such an experience." In other words, amateurs need not bring their instruments. 9 p.m. Sunday at Andy's Jazz Club, 11 E. Hubbard St.; $10 (free for performers); 312-642-6805 or andysjazzclub.com

Soul Jazz Party: For those who don't have to go to work on Monday morning or just don't need much sleep, the late-late Sunday-night show at the Green Mill offers a funky way to close the weekend: a Soul Jazz Party featuring Chicago jazz guitarist Joel Paterson with Ben Paterson (no relation) on the Hammond B-3 organ and Alex Hall on drums, the musicians revisiting organ-trio sounds of the '50s, '60s and thereafter. 11 p.m. Sunday 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.

hreich@tribune.com

Twitter @howardreich